FDA shares data on cucumber and hot pepper testing

Tom Karst of The Packer reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released preliminary results of pathogen testing of cucumbers and hot peppers.

animal.house.cucumberStarting November 2015, the agency began microbiological surveillance sampling and testing of cucumbers and hot peppers because these products have previously been involved in large-scale outbreaks, according to the FDA report. The outbreaks were linked to hospitalizations, and in the case of hot peppers, two deaths, according to the FDA.

The agency is in the midst of testing approximately 1,600 samples for Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 in cucumbers, and Salmonella spp., Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and E. coli O157:H7 in hot peppers, according to the report. 

So far, the FDA said it has tested 452 samples of hot peppers and 352 samples of cucumbers. Of those, 13 of the hot pepper samples and three cucumbers samples tested positive for Salmonella. The rest tested negative for the targeted pathogens, according to the FDA.

The FDA report said the testing continues and offered no conclusions about the results so far.

Final tally: 907 sick, 6 dead from Salmonella linked to imported cucumbers

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, this outbreak appears to be over. However, Salmonella remains an important cause of human illness in the United States.

cucumber.facialA total of 907 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona were reported from 40 states.

A total of 204 ill people were hospitalized, and six deaths were reported from Arizona (1), California (3), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1). Salmonella infection was not considered to be a contributing factor in two of the three deaths in California.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as the likely source of the infections in this outbreak.

Two recalls of cucumbers that may be contaminated with Salmonella were announced in September 2015 as a result of this investigation: Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and Custom Produce Sales.

Investigation of illnesses that were reported after the peak of the outbreak in August and September 2015 did not identify an additional food linked to illness. The source of contamination for the cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce has not been identified.

Among people for whom information was available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to February 29, 2016. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 18. Forty-nine percent of ill people were children younger than 18 years. Fifty-six percent of ill people were female. Among 720 people with available information, 204 (28%) were hospitalized. Six deaths were reported.

salm.cucumber.sep.15WGS showed that isolates from ill people were closely related genetically. These results also included isolates from people who became ill in October, November and January after the outbreak’s peak. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection, such as a contaminated food.

Several state health and agriculture departments collected and tested cucumbers from retail locations and isolated the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona. Information indicated that these cucumbers were distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce. Additionally, testing of cucumbers collected from the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility isolated the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona.

WGS of Salmonella Poona isolates from ill people and from contaminated cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce showed that the strains were closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship provided additional evidence that ill people in this outbreak became ill from consuming cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson.

CDC: 888 sick, 191 hospitalized, 6 dead from imported cucumbers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that since the last update on November 19, 2015, 50 more ill people have been reported from 16 states.

cucumber.facialTwo additional deaths were reported from California, bringing the total number of deaths to 6. According to the California Department of Public Health, Salmonella infection was not considered to be a contributing factor in either of these 2 additional deaths.

Tennessee was added to the list of states with ill people, bringing the total number of states to 39.

The number of reported illnesses has declined substantially since the peak of illnesses in August and September; however, it has not returned to the number of reported illnesses that we would expect to see (about 1 every month during this time of year). The investigation into the source of these recent illnesses is ongoing.

CDC, multiple states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Poona infections.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak.

Two recalls of cucumbers that may be contaminated with Salmonella were announced in September 2015 as a result of this investigation: Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and Custom Produce Sales.

animal.house.cucumber888 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 39 states, an increase of 50 cases since the last update on November 19, 2015.

191 ill people have been hospitalized, and six deaths have been reported from Arizona (1), California (3), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1). Salmonella infection was not considered to be a contributing factor in two of the three deaths in California.

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the strains of Salmonella Poona from ill persons and from contaminated cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce are closely related genetically.

WGS of isolates from people who became ill in October and November are also closely related genetically to isolates from people who became ill during the peak of the outbreak and to isolates from contaminated cucumbers.

The source of contamination for the cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce has not been identified.

The number of reported illnesses has declined substantially since the peak of illnesses in August and September; however, it has not returned to the number of reported illnesses that we would expect to see (about 1 every month this time of year). The investigation into the source of these recent illnesses is ongoing.

cucumber.spain,MEPWhole genome sequencing results from recent illnesses suggest it is likely that there is a common source of ongoing contamination.

Interviews of persons who became ill after the end of September have not identified an additional food item linked to illness.

Investigations are under way to determine if cross-contamination within the distribution chain for the recalled cucumbers could explain recent illnesses.

 

4 dead, 834 sick from Salmonella in cucumbers from Mexico

Who knew cucumbers could be so vile?

cucumber.spain,MEPThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control, multiple states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Poona infections.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak.

Two recalls of cucumbers that may be contaminated with Salmonella were announced as a result of this investigation: Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and Custom Produce Sales.

838 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 38 states, an increase of 71 cases since the last update on October 14.

165 ill people have been hospitalized, and four deaths have been reported from Arizona (1), California (1), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1).

4 dead, 732 sick from Salmonella Poona linked to imported cucumbers

As of October 5, 2015, 732 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 35 states. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Alaska (14), Arizona (114), Arkansas (11), California (192), Colorado (18), Hawaii (1), Idaho (24), Illinois (9), Indiana (3), Iowa (6), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (5), Maryland (1), Minnesota (37), Missouri (11), Montana (14), Nebraska (6), Nevada (14), New Mexico (31), New York (6), North Dakota (6), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (20), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Texas (34), Utah (53), Virginia (1), Washington (22), Wisconsin (40), and Wyoming (7).

cucumberAmong people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to September 25, 2015. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 17. Fifty percent of ill people are children younger than 18 years. Fifty-five percent of ill people are female. Among 536 people with available information, 150 (28%) report being hospitalized. Four deaths have been reported from Arizona (1), California (1), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (1).

Illnesses that occurred after September 8, 2015 might not be reported yet. A series of events occurs between the time a person is infected and the time public health officials can determine that the person is part of an outbreak. This means that there will be a delay between when a person gets sick and confirmation that he or she is part of an outbreak. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.

Where were you the last 25 years? Andrew & Williamson donates to STOP

As the number of people sick with Salmonella from Mexican cucumbers continues to climb – 3 deaths, 671 people sick with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona, an increase of 113 cases since the last CDC update on September 22 — the U.S. distributor has donated to a non-profit group’s campaign aimed at improving foodborne disease diagnosis and it urged other produce companies to do the same.

cucumbersSan Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce partner David Murray said in a Sept. 25 statement, that the firm is “absolutely devastated” by the outbreak and is working with authorities in the U.S. and Mexico, as well as food-safety experts, to analyze its processes and fix any problems.

“On a personal note, in reading information about the illnesses, it was clear that many doctors need additional guidance to ensure the timely diagnosis and treatment of foodborne illnesses,” he said. “With that in mind, we will be making a donation to STOP Foodborne Illness, a non-profit organization devoted to assisting those impacted by foodborne illness.”

“This donation is in support of STOP’s efforts to create an educational packet about foodborne illness to send to every pediatric emergency room and hospital in the U.S. so that patients receive a timely diagnosis and proper treatment.

While we recognize that our actions cannot alleviate the pain caused by a victim’s suffering or worse, the loss of a loved one, the A&W family promises you that we will learn from this experience. We will never forget what happened. And you can rest assured that our food safety decisions will forever be influenced by the memory of consumers who have been impacted by this recall.”

3 dead, 558 sick from Salmonella in cucumbers: 30-second food safety stories

There were some cucumbers from Mexico that made people sick.

cucumber.spain,MEP3 people died, they won’t get over it.

Maybe the birds, maybe the water,

Maybe the sick included a daughter.

Tomatoes and cucs, do people think about that?

Or is it just easier to blame the cat.

30-second food safety stories.

It’s all true.

2 dead, 341 sick from Salmonella in cucumbers

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

  • CDC, multiple states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of SalmonellaPoona infections.
  • cucumber341 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 30 states, an increase of 56 cases since the last update on September 4. 
  • 70 ill people have been hospitalized, and two deaths have been reported from California (1) and Texas (1).
  • 53% of ill people are children younger than 18 years.
  • Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations have identified imported cucumbers from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak.
  • 91 (68%) of 134 people interviewed reported eating cucumbers in the week before their illness began.
  • Eleven illness clusters have been identified in seven states. In all of these clusters, interviews found that cucumbers were a food item eaten in common by ill people.
  • Arizona, California, Montana, and Nevada isolated Salmonellafrom samples of cucumbers collected from various locations that were distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.
  • On September 4, 2015, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce voluntarily recalledall cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • The type of cucumber is often referred to as a “slicer” or “American” cucumber and is dark green in color. Typical length is 7 to 10 inches. 
  • In retail locations the cucumbers are typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping.
  • A photo of the packing carton is available.
  • Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Further distribution to other states may have occurred.
  • Consumers should not eat, restaurants should not serve, and retailers should not sell recalled cucumbers.
  • If you aren’t sure if your cucumbers were recalled, ask the place of purchase or your supplier. When in doubt, don’t eat, sell, or serve them and throw them out.
  • CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Systemlaboratory is conducting antibiotic resistance testing on clinical isolates collected from ill people infected with the outbreak strains; results will be reported when they become available.
  • This investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

Case Count Update

Since the last update on September 4, 2015, 56 new ill people have been reported from Alaska (1), Arizona (6), California (21), Hawaii (1), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Missouri (1), New Mexico (3), Oklahoma (3), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1), Texas (9), and Washington (1).

As of September 8, 2015, a total of 341 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 30 states. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alaska (9), Arizona (66), Arkansas (6), California (72), Colorado (14), Hawaii (1), Idaho (8), Illinois (6), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (4), Minnesota (12), Missouri (8), Montana (10), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (18), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (8), Oregon (8), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (7), Texas (18), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (10), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3).

Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to August 30, 2015. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 15. Fifty-three percent of ill people are children younger than 18 years. Fifty-eight percent of ill people are female. Among 214 people with available information, 70 (33%) report being hospitalized. Two deaths have been reported from California (1) and Texas (1).

Illnesses that occurred after August 16, 2015 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.

 

‘Selling produce for over 20 years with never a Salmonella to be seen’ Shoppers go local in outbreaks

With one dead and almost 300 sick from Salmonella in cucumbers from Mexico, the buy local refrain is once again trumped as the solution to food safety woes.

animal.house.cucumberSorta easy to do in North America at the end of summer.

Sweet Water Nursery owner Tom Karakalos and his wife farm their food just seven miles west of Creswell in Oregon. They say they take pride in their organic and uncontaminated product, especially in the midst of this Salmonella outbreak.

“It’s never been a problem for us,” says Erica Trappe. “We’ve been selling produce for over 20 years with never a Salmonella to be seen.”

Maybe their bacteria-sensing goggles are fuzzy.

Customers John and Olivia O’Hare are taking action by only shopping local-. They say they’re avoiding the potential of contaminated produce.
“Who knows what’s on it,” says John O’Hare. “Who knows what you’re going to be ingesting with the food. I never get that aspect here.”

Unless the outbreak is local. And that happens too.

 

1 dead, 284 sick from Salmonella in US outbreak linked to imported cucumbers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

  • Since July 3, 2015, 285 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 27 states.
  • 53 ill people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported from California.
  • cucumbers54% of ill people are children younger than 18 years.
  • Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations have identified imported cucumbers from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak.
  • 58 (73%) of 80 people interviewed reported eating cucumbers in the week before their illness began.
  • Eleven illness clusters have been identified in seven states. In all of these clusters, interviews found that cucumbers were a food item eaten in common by ill people.
  • The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency isolated Salmonella from cucumbers collected during a visit to the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility.
  • On September 4, 2015, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • The type of cucumber is often referred to as a “slicer” or “American” cucumber and is dark green in color. Typical length is 7 to 10 inches.
  • Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Further distribution to other states may have occurred.
  • Consumers should not eat, restaurants should not serve, and retailers should not sell recalled cucumbers.
  • If you aren’t sure if your cucumbers were recalled, ask the place of purchase or your supplier. When in doubt, don’t eat, sell, or serve them and throw them out.
  • CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System laboratory is conducting antibiotic resistance testing on clinical isolates collected from ill people infected with the outbreak strains; results will be reported when they become available.
  • This investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

CDC, multiple states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Poona infections linked to imported cucumbers from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.

salm.cucumber.sep.15Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet, the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories, is coordinated by CDC. DNA “fingerprinting” is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using a technique called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE. PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA “fingerprints” to identify possible outbreaks. Three DNA “fingerprints” (outbreak strains) are included in this investigation.

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).

Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to August 26, 2015. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 13. Fifty-four percent of ill people are children younger than 18 years. Fifty-seven percent of ill people are female. Among 160 people with available information, 53 (33%) report being hospitalized. One death has been reported from California.

On September 4, 2015, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. The type of cucumber is often referred to as a “slicer” or “American” cucumber. It is dark green in color and typical length is 7 to 10 inches. In retail locations it is typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping. Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah and reached customers through retail, food service companies, wholesalers, and brokers. Further distribution to other states may have occurred.