What is the Problem and What is Being Done About It?
The FDA, CDC, 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 October 14, 2015, 767 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 36 states. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Alaska (16), Arizona (118), Arkansas (11), California (205), Colorado (18), Florida (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (24), Illinois (9), Indiana (4), Iowa (6), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (5), Maryland (1), Minnesota (38), Missouri (12), Montana (15), Nebraska (7), Nevada (14), New Mexico (31), New York (6), North Dakota (6), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (21), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Texas (38), Utah (53), Virginia (1), Washington (24), Wisconsin (42), and Wyoming (7). Illness start dates range from July 3, 2015 to September 29, 2015.
Among 561 people with available information, 157 people (28 percent) have been hospitalized, and a total of four deaths have been reported from Arizona (1), California (1), Oklahoma (1) and Texas (1).
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 & Williamson Fresh Produce, of San Diego, California, was a common supplier of cucumbers that were eaten by the people in these illness clusters.
Several state health and agriculture departments are collecting and testing cucumbers from retail locations for the presence of Salmonella. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, the Arizona Department of Health Services, and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services have isolated one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona from cucumbers collected from retail locations. Preliminary information indicates that these cucumbers were distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce. Additionally, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency isolated one of the outbreak strains Salmonella Poona from cucumbers collected during a visit to the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility.
On September 3, 2015, FDA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) briefed the management of Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce on the status of the investigation thus far. Andrew & Williamson has issued a voluntary recall of all cucumbers sold under its Limited Edition® label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015. This recall has prompted additional voluntary recalls from firms that received Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.
Andrew & 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
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 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 FDA traceback investigation determined that the firm Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. located in Baja, Mexico was the primary source of cucumbers shipped to Andrew & Williamson.
On September 14, 2015, the FDA issued an updated Import Alert to include cucumbers from Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. located in Baja, Mexico. This action was based on the identification of Salmonella in cucumbers through import sampling of the farm’s cucumbers.
The FDA added cucumbers from Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. located in Baja, Mexico to a second Import Alert on September 23, 2015, based on the appearance that cucumbers from the firm appeared to have been prepared, packed, and held under insanitary conditions. In order to overcome the appearance of a violation, Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. should demonstrate that they have identified potential sources and routes of contamination and have taken steps to prevent future contamination before the company’s cucumbers can be removed from the Import Alert.
The investigation is ongoing, and FDA will continue to provide updates and advice when new information is available.
Related Recalls and Warnings
- Custom Produce Sales Voluntarily Recalls Fat Boy Brand® and Unlabeled Cucumbers Because of Possible Health Risk
- Nine Alaska Safeway and Carrs Stores Voluntarily Recall Deli Sandwiches Containing Andrew & Williamson Cucumbers
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection advises Wisconsinites to avoid consuming some cucumbers due to possible Salmonella contamination
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency Food Recall Warnings:
What are the Symptoms of Salmonella?
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. It is important to note that this outbreak is caused by Salmonella Poona.
How Soon do Symptoms Appear After Exposure?
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
What are the Complications of Salmonella Infections?
In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
Who is at Risk?
Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other people. Children younger than 5 years of age, the elderly, and those people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that approximately 400 persons in the United States die each year with acute salmonellosis.
What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?
Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell the recalled cucumbers and should ask their suppliers what company supplied their cucumbers.
Restaurants and retailers should follow the steps below:
- Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored.
- Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store potentially contaminated products.
- Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
- Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.
- Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.
What Do Consumers Need To Do?
Consumers should not eat the recalled cucumbers and should ask their retailer or restaurant what company supplied their cucumbers.
Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce 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 company 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.
Consumers may return Andrew & Williamson cucumbers to the place of purchase or throw them out. If in doubt about your cucumbers, do not eat them.
Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. At home, keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from produce and ready-to-eat foods, cook foods to the proper temperature; and refrigerate perishable foods promptly. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
Who Should be Contacted?
Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce at (844)-483-3864.
People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated cucumbers should talk to their health care providers. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.
The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or to consult http://www.fda.gov.
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If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.