51 sick in Canada and U.S. from Salmonella linked to cucumbers

I’ve been waiting for more info on this outbreak but it’s not there.

Cucumbers have been linked to at least 45 Salmonella illnesses in western Canada.

A further six people in Washington state – that’s also in the west – have been stricken by what seems to be the same bacterium linked to cucs, sold at Costco.

7 sick from Salmonella at Costco deli in Washington

KOMO News reports a salmonella outbreak has been linked to food prepared in the service deli at the Costco Wholesale Warehouse in Issaquah, and now local health officials are closely monitoring the deli to make sure it is taking steps to prevent further problems.

An investigation by Public Health Seattle & King County found that seven people who got sick between August 2017 and July 2018 all tested positive for the same strain of salmonella, suggesting a common source for the infection.

As the investigation continued, officials discovered in August that all seven people who got sick had shopped at the Costco store in Issaquah. Of those, five bought ready-to-eat food from the service deli and one was an employee at the deli – although there was no evidence that the employee was the source of the outbreak.

It could not be confirmed whether or not the seventh person had purchased food at the Costco deli. One salmonella victim had to be hospitalized, but all seven have since recovered.

The Costco service deli prepares and sells a variety of ready-to-eat foods, but it could not be determined which of those was the source of the outbreak, King County health officials said.

Public health links Salmonella illnesses to Washington Costco deli

The Patch writes that a bunch of Salmonella illnesses have been linked to eating food from a Costco deli in Issaquah, Washington.

The Patch reports that King County health officials released a bulletin today stating,

Since August 28, 2017, we have learned of seven King County residents who tested positive for Salmonella I,4,[5], 12:i:- infections. DNA fingerprinting was performed on the Salmonella bacteria from the seven people who got sick and was identical for all cases, suggesting a common source of infection. Illness onsets occurred sporadically during August 28, 2017–July 13, 2018, and a common epidemiological link among all cases was not established until August 2018; no single food item prepared by the service deli has been identified as the source of the illnesses.

Salmonella is crazy hardy. Sticking around in a deli location for a year, is notable though. Niches in equipment, floors, utensils could be good harborage spots. Someone sent me an outbreak report a while ago about a restaurant that had a really long Salmonella outbreak linked to drains and the environment (I think, I can’t find the post though).

Also notable is that in 2016 another Washington State Costco was also the source of Salmonella I,4,[5], 12:i:- . That incident was linked to four cases and attributed to rotisserie chicken salad.

Diamond Pet Food, Costco pay settlement in Canadian Salmonella cases in pets

Diamond Pet Food and Costco have begun paying settlements to Canadian pet owners who say their pets required screening and/or treatment, or the pets died, after they were exposed to Salmonella in 2011 and 2012.

diamond.pet.foodA class action lawsuit was filed against Diamond Pet Foods and its distributor, Costco, after pet illnesses and some deaths occurred. While admitting no liability, the companies agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid lengthy litigation. The settlement was announced in March 2016.

Attorney Jeff Ornstein, who heads the class action firm, Consumer Law Group, said Costco is notifying 115,000 customers who purchased the pet food by an automated phone call, announcing that the settlement is available.

To be eligible, consumers must have purchased Diamond Pet Food, recalled on April 6, 26 or 30, 2012,  or on May 4-5, 2012, and did not return the recalled produced or exchange, and did not already sign a release with Diamond or Costco.

The amount of payment depends on the damages sustained and varies from the cost of replacing the pet food to larger amounts to cover the costs of veterinary care, or costs related to the death of the animal.

The class action filing says one consumer’s dog became extremely ill after eating Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula – a Diamond Pet Food Brand made for Costco – and required treatment and lab tests by a veterinarian.

The companies told the consumer about the Salmonella contamination but would not compensate the consumer for the veterinary bills because the consumer did not have an empty bag or proof of purchase for the dog food.

Consumed frozen cherry/berry mix from Costco in Canada? You might have been exposed to hep A

The often-missed Bill Keene was quoted in 2013 about using loyalty cards in an outbreak investigation ‘We rely on people’s memories, which are quite fallible, and on our interviews, which are quite fallible; Shopper club cards are a good source of finding out what people ate.’

Cards can be used to connect with members who purchased specific products if those products are part of an outbreak or recall – a tool to overcome the poor memories.

Lots of data is collected by retailers with every swipe of a loyalty or membership card: date, product, lot, location. CDC reported that the cards aided in an investigation into a 2009 outbreak of Salmonella montevideo linked to pepper (which was used as an ingredient in multiple foods).image

And this frozen cherry/berry hepatitis A outbreak at a Canadian membership retailer in 2013 (sounds familiar).

It’s not failsafe though; folks, who, according to PHAC, sampled frozen berry dishes at Canadian Costco outlets recently, may not know they might have been exposed to hepatitis A.

CBC says go ahead and get an IgG shot at Costco quickly. Because it might not work for too long (based on the window of exposure).

Eastern Health’s chief medical officer David Allison is warning people who have eaten or handled contaminated fruit to get vaccinated within 14 days.

Allison said that one person in the province has contracted hepatitis as a result, but no other cases have been found. Twelve other cases have been identified in provinces across Canada.

According to Costco, approximately 1,600 households in the province have purchased the product.

While vaccines “aren’t easy to come by,” Costco is offering post-exposure immunization to those who have come into contact with the berries.

Collaboration two-step: 12 sick with hep A from frozen cherries grown who knows where

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Hepatitis A infections in three provinces linked to the frozen fruit product: Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend.

clear.present.dangerThe Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a food recall warning advising Canadians of the recall of the frozen fruit product that has been distributed in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Public Health Agency of Canada advises Canadians not to consume the frozen fruit product Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend sold exclusively at Costco warehouse locations in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.  If you suspect you have been exposed to the recalled product, or have symptoms consistent for Hepatitis A, see your health care provider immediately. Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure.

Currently, there are 12 cases of Hepatitis A in three provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (9), Quebec (2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick in February and March of this year. Some of the individuals who became ill have reported eating the recalled product. The majority of cases (58%) are male, with an average age of 37 years. Three cases have been hospitalized.

Costco, where you getting those cherries from?


19 sickened with E. coli O157 from chicken salad: Source not IDed but fast recall by Costco may have limited outbreak

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, and public health officials in several states investigated an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) infections.

chicken_salad_sandPublic health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that were 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 E. coli 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.

One DNA fingerprint (outbreak strain) was included in this investigation. A total of 19 people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing STEC O157:H7 were reported from seven states. The majority of illnesses were reported from the western United States. The number of ill people reported from each state was as follows: California (1), Colorado (4), Missouri (1), Montana (6), Utah (5), Virginia (1), and Washington (1).

Among people for whom information was available, illnesses started on dates ranging from October 6, 2015 to November 3, 2015. Ill people ranged in age from 5 years to 84, with a median age of 18. Fifty-seven percent of ill people were female. Five (29%) people were hospitalized, and two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported.


The epidemiologic evidence collected during this investigation suggested that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco stores was the likely source of this outbreak.

State and local public health officials interviewed ill people to obtain information about foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness started. Fourteen (88%) of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco.

On November 20, 2015, Costco reported to public health officials that the company had removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from all stores in the United States. This voluntary action taken by Costco may have prevented additional illnesses. Costco also worked in collaboration with public health officials during the investigation by providing records and information related to ingredient suppliers to try to determine the source of the outbreak.

The Montana Public Health Laboratory tested a sample of celery and onion diced blend produced by Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. and collected from a Costco store in Montana. Preliminary results indicated the presence of E. coli O157:H7. This product was used to make the Costco rotisserie chicken salad eaten by ill people in this outbreak. According to the FDA, further laboratory analysis was unable to confirm the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in the sample of celery and onion diced blend.

As a result of the preliminary laboratory results and out of an abundance of caution, on November 26, 2015, Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. voluntarily recalled the celery and onion diced blend and many other products containing celery because they might be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The FDA conducted a traceback investigation of the FDA regulated ingredients used in the chicken salad to try to determine which ingredient was linked to illness. However, the traceback investigation did not identify a common source of contamination.

This outbreak appears to be over.

Florida Costco failed inspection for live roaches near food and temperature violations

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Food safety just failed the Costco Warehouse at 10921 Causeway Blvd in Brandon this week.

costco.beach.towelOn Monday, December 14, food safety inspectors observed live roaches in the ‘Club Demonstration Services’ area, food storage, and ware-washing room. That demo room was given a ‘Stop Use Order’ and not allowed to reopen until inspectors return for a follow-up inspection and approve its been adequately cleaned and sanitized.

Also during their visit, food safety inspectors issued a temporary stop sale on various food items due to dangerous temperature issues with five pounds of crab legs at 55-degrees and one pound of sausage at 46-degrees. Cold food should be maintained at 41 degrees or below. 

Both had to be placed on ice to bring down the temperature before they could be released to be sold.

ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan spoke to Craig Wilson, the vice president of food safety for Costco. He told her over the phone that the ‘Demo Room’ was shut down due to the pest issue, so they immediately called EcoLab for treatment to get rid of the roaches and make sure they did not come back.

Wilson also explained that they sanitized and cleaned the area completely, and they’re now waiting on food safety inspectors to return so the room can be used again.s

Wilson said that Costco works 100 percent with the health department and looks forward to things getting back to the way they should be.

E. coli O157 in chicken salad: FDA can’t find it in celery-onion mix, but epi still counts (maybe it was an herb)

JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times writes that federal food-safety officials haven’t nabbed a culprit after all in an E. coli outbreak tied to Costco chicken salad that sickened 19 and led to the recall of 155,000 food products last month.

costco-rotisserie-chickenOfficials with the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that tests failed to identify E. coli O157: H7 from a sample of celery and onions from Taylor Farms Pacific Inc., of Tracy, Calif.

“The ongoing investigation has not identified a specific ingredient responsible for the illnesses,” the FDA wrote in a statement.

The celery-onion mixture was identified as the potential source of contamination in Costco rotisserie-chicken salad that was linked to 19 illnesses in seven states as of Nov. 23.

That was based on five preliminary tests by the Montana Department of Health, which indicated the presence of the bug in chicken-salad samples from a Montana Costco. In response, Taylor Farms voluntarily recalled multiple products that contained the celery mix on Nov. 26, followed by an expanded recall a week later.

Costco pulled the chicken salad from store shelves on Nov. 20 and stopped production.

Still, that doesn’t mean the bug wasn’t in the samples, only that later tests couldn’t find it, the FDA noted. The samples were analyzed with a rapid test to screen for bacteria. But later analysis may have failed to find the germ because other bacteria could have grown, too; there were too few of the bacteria in question to detect; they may have been hard to isolate; or they could have died off over time.

“This does not let celery off the hook,” said Craig Wilson, Costco’s vice president of food safety and quality assurance.

The salad was composed of chicken, high-acid salad dressing and the celery/onion mix. Only the vegetables have been known to be associated with E. coli outbreaks, Wilson noted.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said the ongoing investigation is working to identify which specific ingredient in the chicken salad is linked to illness. The celery and onion diced blend has not been ruled out as a source of the outbreak. Updates will be provided when more information is available.

Taylor Farms recalls onion and celery mix; produce has it’s problems

Taylor Farms supplies celery and onion mixtures to a lot of retail and food service operations. And they are recalling it, according FDA, after Costco and Montana health officials linked the ingredients to it’s chicken salad/E. coli outbreak.tyf_logo

Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. of Tracy, CA, is recalling the products listed below because they may include celery which could potentially contain E. coli 0157:H7. The products listed below are being recalled out of an abundance of caution due to a Celery and Onion Diced Blend testing positive for E. coli O157:H7 in a sample taken by the Montana Department of Health. The Celery and Onion Diced Blend tested by the state of Montana was used in a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad that has been linked to a multi-state E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.

Liz Szabo of USA Today called me yesterday between a pre-Thanksgiving gym trip and turkey preparation to talk about the Costco-linked outbreak.

The E. coli outbreak traced to Costco chicken salads appears to have been caused by vegetables in the salad, rather than the chicken itself, according to company officials.

Tests performed by the Food and Drug Administration and Montana health officials traced the E. coli to an onion and celery mix, rather than the rotisserie chicken itself, Craig Wilson, Costco’s vice president of food safety and quality assurance, told USA TODAY. Health officials are performing additional tests to confirm this link.

The specific type of bacteria in this outbreak, E coli O157, is particularly dangerous, especially for children, said Ben Chapman, an associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. E. coli 0157 is more likely than other varieties of the bacteria to cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can leave survivors on dialysis, he said.

One in 6 Americans — more than 48 million people — are sickened by the food they eat each year in the country, causing about 3,000 deaths and 125,000 hospitalizations, costing the economy $14.1 billion, according to the CDC.

More than half of food poisoning outbreaks are related to fruits and vegetables, Chapman said. Fresh produce is particularly vulnerable to contaminants, simply because it’s not cooked.

“When it comes to produce, there is no zero risk,” Chapman said (true with all foods -ben). “There are just so many points where it can be contaminated, between the field and someone’s plate.”

E. coli can get into the food chain in a variety of ways. Outbreaks have been linked to animal manure left behind by deer and even wild pigs, Chapman said.

Both Costco and Taylor Farms have good reputations for food safety, said William Marler, a Seattle attorney who has represented victims of food-borne illness and whose law firm operates a data base of food poisoning outbreaks.

“Costco has always done a good job with food safety,” Marler said. “They are probably one of the better stores out there, which shows just how vulnerable a supply chain is to E. coli or salmonella. Even if you have the best food safety systems in place, it always requires constant monitoring and oversight.”

But outbreaks can happen even at careful companies. “With mass-produced food, the opportunity for problems is really high,” Marler said.

And with not massed-produced foods too.