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 49

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we don’t have any recalls from consumers in EU, between the alert notifications.

Between the information for attention, followed by a recall from the consumers:

Allergens: too high content of gluten in sweet corn flour, following an official control on the market. Origin and notification from Poland.

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

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: foodborne outbreak suspected caused by chilled mussels, following a consumer complaint. Origin from Ireland and Netherlands, notification from United Kingdom, distributed also to Austria, Czech Republic and France;

Biocontaminants: histamine in canned sardines in olive oil, following a company’s own check. Origin Morocco, notification from France;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in chilled herring fillets in oil, following company’s own check. Origin Netherlands, notification from France;

Allergens: undeclared soya in fine poultry pate, following an official control on the market. Origin Poland, notification from Czech Republic;

Heavy metals: lead in food supplement, following an official control on the market. Origin Austria, notification from Slovenia.

 Heavy metals: mercury in frozen sliced blue shark, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notification from Italy.

In Switzerland we have also a seizure of green papaya from Thailand for presence of unauthorised genetically modified organism, following a border control.

Regarding border rejections we have, among the others, aflatoxins in peanut kernels and in blanched groundnuts from China, in pistachio kernels from Afghanistan (via Turkey), in organic ginger from India and in dried figs from Turkey, Salmonella poona in fresh water spinach from Sri Lanka, suspicion of fraudulent health certificate for almonds from the United States (via Turkey), absence of health certificate for graviola powder, cat’s claw powder and Chanca Piedra powder from Peru, for chicken and chive rice crackers declared as wheat crackers from China and for fresh okra from India , poor hygienic state of soft and spelt wheat from Armenia, unsuitable organoleptic characteristics and poor hygienic state of bananas from Colombia, dimethoate and hexaconazole in fresh mint from Morocco, buprofezin, triazophos, acetamiprid and fipronil and unauthorised substance isocarbophos in green tea from China.

For food contact material we have a border rejection for migration of cadmium from plates from China.