On July 15, 2015, the Washington State Department of Health notified the feds of an investigation of Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- illnesses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) determined there was a link between whole hogs for barbeque and pork products from Kapowsin Meats of Pierce County and those illnesses.
In the end, at least 192 were sickened by the oddly named Salmonella I 4,,12:i:-.
It has now emerged that the Salmonella that sickened at least 11 people at a Seattle luau in July is the same type — and possibly from the same source — as the July 2015 outbreak.
JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times cited Washington state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist as saying they all ate whole roast pork served either at the Good Vibe Tribe Luau at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle on July 3, or at a private event in Pierce County,. The meat in both cases came from Kapowsin, which reopened with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on June 13.
“This is very concerning to me,” said Lindquist.
The genetic fingerprints of the bacteria match those from the outbreak that caused 22 clusters of illnesses in June and July 2015 in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Alaska, Lindquist said.
When reached by phone, John Anderson, chief executive of Kapowsin Meats in Graham, Pierce County, declined to answer questions Tuesday. He referred calls to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
FSIS officials said Kapowsin had implemented new cleaning, processing and bacterial-sampling protocols, including running whole hog carcasses through a steam intervention to kill bacteria. Federal inspectors were at the plant when it reopened in June and have been there every day that slaughter occurred.
The plant remained open Tuesday, FSIS officials said. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they were monitoring the outbreak closely.
Health officials urge consumers to use care when cooking whole roast pig to avoid getting sick. Consumers should make sure the meat is clean, avoid cross-contamination of utensils and surfaces, cook the meat to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and quickly refrigerate cooked meat after meals.
But this doesn’t sound so much like a consumer problem as a slaughterhouse problem.