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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

2013 Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Meat

In January 2013 local, state and federal officials announced an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to consumption of ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods.  Public health investigators used DNA “fingerprints” of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to identify patients considered to be part of the outbreak. Collaborative investigative efforts indicated that ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods were the likely source of the outbreak.

A total of 22 persons infected with the outbreak strain were reported from six states:  Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Among persons for whom information was available, illness onset dates ranged from December 9, 2012 to February 20, 2013.  Ill persons ranged in age from 2 years to 87 years. Among 14 persons with available information, 7 ill persons were hospitalized.  No deaths were reported.

Initial investigations focused on 7 ill persons in Michigan (6) and Arizona (1) who reported eating at the same restaurant before their illness began.  All seven of these ill persons reported eating raw ground beef kibbeh (a dish typically made of finely ground red meat, usually lamb, minced onions, and bulgur wheat) at this restaurant before becoming ill.  An additional 9 ill persons were interviewed and answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures during the week before becoming ill.  Although several of these ill persons reported eating beef prior to becoming ill, a likely source was not identified that linked these illnesses with the illnesses at the restaurant.

On January 24, 2013 Jouni Meats, Inc. recalled approximately 500 pounds of ground beef products.[1]  In the FSIS recall news release announcing this recall, FSIS stated that the investigation identified that raw ground beef was consumed at a restaurant. The products subject to recall are various size packages of ground beef. These products were produced between December 4, 2012 and December 9, 2012, and distributed to a restaurant in Macomb County, Michigan, and sold directly to consumers at Jouni Meats, Inc.  On January 25, 2013 Gab Halal Foods recalled approximately 550 pounds of ground beef products.[2]  The products subject to recall are various size packages of ground beef wrapped in clear plastic. These products were produced between December 4, 2012, and December 10, 2012, and distributed to a restaurant in Macomb County, Michigan, and sold directly to consumers at Gab Halal Foods.

On March 15, 2013 the CDC issued a final notice declaring the outbreak to be over.[3]

A Report on the 2012 multistate foodborne illness outbreak associated with Salmonella typhimurium including Michigan and an evaluation of traceback records.

Background information

In March 2013, the Centers for Disease Control reported on a multistate outbreak of foodborne illness related to Salmonella typhimurium in 6 states.  A total of 22 confirmed cases were listed in the report, which were indistinguishable by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and included 9 cases in the State of Michigan and 1 case in the State of Arizona.  The Arizona case consumed the suspect meal in Michigan during the same time period as the other Michigan cases.  Because of this outbreak two meat-processing establishments issued voluntary recalls because of the link of illnesses to their processing facilities.  Seven (7) of the Michigan cases and the 1 Arizona case consumed “Kibbeh” (a product made with raw ground beef and not further cooked), at the same restaurant “Ike’s” in Sterling Heights, Michigan.  All of the products were purchased on the same date, November 8, 2012 although one of the cases consumed the product as a leftover on the following day.  The other 6 cases consumed the product at the restaurant.  Further, 3 additional cases were epidemiologically linked to eating kibbeh at Ike’s Restaurant.

During the same time period, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA/AMS) routinely sampled ground beef destined for their food commodity-purchasing program.  This sample, from a slaughter/processing plant in Minnesota, also matched the outbreak strain by PFGE.

The Traceback

Ike’s Restaurant purchases ground beef from two suppliers: Gab Halal Foods also called Bob Berry & Sons and from Jouni Halal Meats.  The product is ground beef made from boneless peeled beef knuckles, which is from the primal cut sirloin.  Ike’s predominantly purchases from Gab Halal Foods and did purchase kibbeh meat on 12/06/2012- 10 pounds and on 12/08/2012-35 pounds.  However, on 12/07/2012 Gab Halal Foods was not able to provide meat for kibbeh and Ike’s purchased 25 pounds from Jouni Halal Meats.

The owner of Ike’s Restaurant stated that he does carry over kibbeh from one day to the next.  Nevertheless, since the last date of delivery from Gab Halal Foods was a 10-pound order on 12/06/2012 it is unlikely that this product would have been served on 12/08/2012 the date of consumption.  Gab Halal Foods and Jouni Halal Meats have the same wholesale supplier called Saad Wholesale Meats in Detroit, Michigan.

Saad Wholesale Meats receives beef products from American Foods Group (AFG), headquartered in Alexandria, Minnesota.  AFG has 10 beef slaughter plants in the United States and 2 of them are located in Minnesota: Dakota Premium in South St. Paul and Long Prairie Packing in Long Prairie.  As stated previously, USDA/AMS obtained a PFGE match for the outbreak strain during routine sampling of ground beef products.  The USDA/AMS does not provide detailed information on the location of the plant only that it is a plant located in Minnesota.  Additional handwritten notes received from the State of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) listed that USDA was in the process of conducting an EA (environmental assessment), or in-depth verification review in USDA terminology at Dakota Premium, USDA establishment 357.  Since the MDARD was in discussions with USDA, Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) on the impending recall by Jouni Halal Meats and Gab Halal Foods, this information was most likely provided by USDA/FSIS during a telephone conversation with an MDARD representative.

Ike’s Restaurant purchased 10 pounds of kibbeh meat on 12/06/2012 and 35 pounds on 12/08/2012 from Gab Halal Foods.  Gab Halal Foods purchased 2-70 pound boxes of beef knuckles from Saad Wholesale Meats on 12/04/2012.  Saad Wholesale Meats purchased 14,721 pounds of beef knuckles from AFG delivery date of 11/28/2012 and 15,834 pounds of beef knuckles from AFG with a delivery date of 12/05/2012.

On 12/07/2012 Ike’s purchased 25 pounds of kibbeh meat from Jouni Halal Meats.  Jouni Halal Meats purchased 69 pounds of beef knuckles from Saad Wholesale Meats on 12/04/2012 and 158 pounds of beef knuckles on 12/07/2012.  Saad Wholesale Meats purchased 14,721 pounds of beef knuckles from AFG delivery date of 11/28/2012 and 15,834 pounds of beef knuckles from AFG with a delivery date of 12/05/2012.

In case 4330502377 ground beef was purchased (date unknown) for household consumption from Rababeh Meat Mkt. in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.  On 12/04/2012 Rababeh Meat Mkt. purchased 250 pounds of beef knuckles from Saad Wholesale Meats and on 12/07/2012 purchased 208 pounds of beef knuckles.  Saad Wholesale Meats purchased 14,721 pounds of beef knuckles from AFG delivery date 11/28/2012 and 15,834 pounds of beef knuckles from AFG with a delivery date of 12/05/2012.

Conclusion

In this investigation the most probable cause of the majority of the illness cases is the kibbeh meat from Ike’s Restaurant purchased on 12/08/2012.  The kibbeh meat came from two sources:  On 12/07/2012 Jouni Halal Meats and on 12/08/2012 Gab Halal Foods.  Either of these deliveries could have been served on 12/08/2012 as the owner of Ike’s Restaurant stated that product from previous day’s deliveries is used.

Both Gab Halal Foods and Jouni Halal Meats have the same source of beef knuckles used for grinding kibbeh meat and that is Saad Wholesale Meats.

Saad Wholesale Meats has one supplier for Halal beef knuckles and that is American Foods Group based in Alexandria, Minnesota.  Coincidently, USDA/AMS had PFGE match to the outbreak strain in a routine sample that was very likely obtained from Dakota Premium Meats, an AFG plant.  Based on this information more likely than not the meat that caused the foodborne illness outbreak was the kibbeh meat served at Ike’s Restaurant and received from Gab Halal Foods and Jouni Halal Meats.  Additionally one case was from ground beef purchased from Rababeh Meat Mkt.  All three establishments, Gab Halal Foods, Jouni Halal Meats and Rababeh Meat Mkt. received beef knuckles from Saad Wholesale Meats who purchases beef knuckles from American Foods Group, Alexandria, Minnesota.

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