FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Poona Linked to Cucumbers

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration), CDC (Center for Disease Prevention and Control), and state and local officials are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Poona linked to “slicer” cucumbers, supplied by Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce and grown in Baja, Mexico. This type of cucumber can also be called “American” cucumbers.

According to the CDC, as of September 3, 2015, 285 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 27 states. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alaska (8), Arizona (60), Arkansas (6), California (51), Colorado (14), Idaho (8), Illinois (5), Kansas (1), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (12), Missouri (7), Montana (11), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (15), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (5), Oregon (3), South Carolina (6), Texas (9), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (9), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3). Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to August 26, 2015.  One death has been reported from California, and 53 people have reported being hospitalized.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about foods eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness began. Fifty-eight (73%) of 80 people interviewed reported eating cucumbers. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 55% reported eating cucumbers in the month of July in the week before they were interviewed.

Federal and state authorities identified clusters of people made ill in separate geographic areas and worked to trace the distribution of the food they ate back to a common supplier. The results of the traceback investigation indicate that Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce, of San Diego, Calif., was a common supplier of cucumbers that were eaten by the people in these illness clusters.

Several state health and agriculture departments are collecting leftover cucumbers from restaurants and grocery stores where ill people reported eating or shopping to test for the presence of Salmonella. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency isolated Salmonella from cucumbers collected during a visit to the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility. Results of additional product testing will be reported once available.

On September 3, 2015, FDA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) briefed the management of Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce on the status of the investigation thus far. Andrew and Williamson has issued a recall of all cucumbers sold under its Limited Edition® label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015.

Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce reports that the Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah and reached customers through retail, food service companies, wholesalers, and brokers. Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce lists many companies they supply to on their website.

The company further reports that these cucumbers are shipped in a black, green, yellow, and craft colored carton which reads “Limited Edition Pole Grown Cucumbers.” This variety is often referred to as a “Slicer” or “American” cucumber. It has a dark green color. It typically has a length of 7 to 10 inches and a diameter of 1.75 to 2.5 inches. In retail it is typically is sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping. In food service it is typically served as part of a salad.

The investigation is ongoing, and FDA will continue to provide updates and advice when new information is available.  For more info read here.

(Source: FDA Website)

Food recalls in EU – Week 44

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we can find three recalls from consumers in EU, between the alert notifications:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. in frozen cooked clams (Meretrix lyrata), following an official control on the market. Origin Vietnam, notification from Belgium, distributed also to Lithuania and Luxembourg;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. in chilled chorizo, following company’s own check. Origin Spain, notification from France;

– Biocontaminants: histamine in frozen yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), following company’s own check. Origin Yemen, notification from Netherlands, distributed also to France.

Between the alert notifications, followed by a withdrawal from the market of the product, we find:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp in frozen marinated chicken fillet, following company’s own check. Origin Netherlands, notification from France;

 Allergens: undeclared peanut in ground almonds, following an official control on the market. Origin United States (via Netherlands), notification from United Kingdom;

Foreign bodies: metal pieces in muffin baking mix, following a consumer complaint. Origin and notification from Norway, distributed also to Sweden;

– Foreign bodies: plastic fragments in cooking sauce, following a consumer complaint. Origin and notification from United Kingdom, distributed also to Ireland;

– Heavy metals: cadmium in celery root, following an official control on the market. Origin Poland, notification from Slovakia.

Regarding border rejections we have, among the others, an attempt to illegally import, suffocation risk as a result of the consumption (mini jelly cups) of and poor traceability records for various types of food products from China infested with moulds and with insects, aflatoxins in groundnuts from the United States and from Argentina,  in shelled pistachios from Turkey (with raw material from the United States), in shelled almonds from Australia and in dried figs from Turkey, ochratoxin A in buckwheat porridge from Russia, unauthorised use of colour E 110 – Sunset Yellow FCF in soft drink from Nigeria, chlorpyriphos in cucumbers from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in beans with pods from Kenya and Salmonella Brunei in fresh coriander leaves from Thailand.