Salmonella is one of the most frequent causes of bacterial foodpoisoning in the United States, causing 40,000 confirmed cases every year, and probably millions of unconfirmed illnesses. 2010 has been no different. We have seen outbreak after outbreak, and recall after recall. Here is a short summary of many prominent Salmonella outbreaks and recalls over the last several months:
ConAgra has issued a recall of Marie Calendars Cheesy Chicken and Rice Frozen Entrees due to potential contamination by Salmonella Chester. The products were distributed nationally. At least 29 people were sickened in the in April and May, including several residents of Oregon and Minnesota–the only states for which this information is currently available.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture isolated Salmonella Chester from an intact package of Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice collected from the home of one of the ill people. This package was purchased at the same time as a similar package that was consumed just prior to the case’s onset of illness.
Subway restaurants from across the state of Illinois have been associated with a very large Salmonella Hvittingfoss outbreak that has sickened 90 people in 28 counties with confirmed foodpoisoning illnesses. The actual number of people sick in the outbreak may be in the thousands, as studies have demonstrated that, in any outbreak of Salmonella, as many as 38.6 times the number of confirmed illnesses are actually ill. Subway, which has issued an apology to its customers, acted quickly on learning of the outbreak to remove many fresh produce items from its Illinois restaurant locations. There has been no official word as to which item in particular was the cause of the outbreak.
Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International, Inc., lettuce products caused a Salmonella outbreak in the “Upper-Midwest” in late April or early May 2010. Not much is known about this outbreak, at least publicly, because the health organizations involved in the investigation did not publicly reveal that the outbreak had occurred.
Several weeks after the outbreak, however, Fresh Express recalled several types of ready-to-eat salads after Salmonella was found in a package tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recalled products included lettuce mixes, Caesar salad and other salad kits, hearts of romaine and other items. The recall extended to products sold in 26 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Also in May 2010, Organicgirl Produce recalled a limited number of cases of 10 oz organicgirl Baby Spinach with an expired Use-by Date of May 22 and Product Code 11A061167 due to potential Salmonella contamination. The recall included only 336 cases of the 10 oz. package size of organicgirl Baby Spinach sold in six states: Alabama, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin, Arizona and California. Like the Fresh Express recall, Organicgirl recalled the baby spinach products due to a positive test for Salmonella in a random sample test collected and conducted by a third-party laboratory for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
As of early June, at least 35 individuals had been infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Newport in 11 states after consuming raw alfalfa sprouts manufactured by Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood, CA. The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: AZ (2), CA (17), CO (1), ID (5), IL (1), MO (1), NM (1), NV (2), OR (2), PA (1), and WI (2). Among those for whom information is available about when symptoms started, illnesses began between March 1, 2010 and May 16, 2010. Case-patients range in age from <1 to 75 years old, and the median age is 36 years. Sixty-six percent of patients are female. Among the 30 patients with available hospitalization information, 7 (23%) were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Los Dos Amigos, a mexican restaurant in Roseburg, Oregon, was the site of a large salmonella outbreak in April. Douglas County health officials report that at least 30 people suffered culture-confirmed salmonella foodpoisoning illnesses, and that cross-contamination was probably a cause of the outbreak. We filed suit on May 19 on behalf of a Roseburg, Oregon resident sickened in the Los Dos Amigos outbreak. We represent a number of other people sickened in the outbreak as well.
The Athens City-County Health Department noticed a sharp uptick in Salmonella infection in early May 2010, and were able to trace the outbreak back to Casa Lopez, located at 1017 East State Street in Athens. At least 45 people had confirmed illnesses in the outbreak, with hundreds likely sickened who did not get tested.
Today, June 18, we filed suit on behalf of a victim of the outbreak, nineteen-year-old Tyler Nay, who ate at Casa Lopez on April 30 with his mother, who was visiting him for Ohio University Mom’s weekend. By early the next morning, he was suffering from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, chills, muscle aches, and headache. He sought medical help at the ER of Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital, and was treated and released. When his symptoms continued to worsen, he returned to the hospital and was admitted. A culture done while he was in the hospital revealed that he was infected with Salmonella. He remained hospitalized for four days.
The Durham County Health Department (DCHD) investigated a foodpoisoning outbreak among persons who ate food prepared at Bullock’s Barbecue, located at 3330 Quebec Drive in Durham, in late April, 2010. Ultimately, the N.C. State Public Health Laboratory was able to determine that the strain of salmonella involved in the outbreak was Salmonella enteritidis, likely introduced into the restaurant environment by contaminated eggs. We represent multiple people for foodpoisoning illnesses suffered in this outbreak.
And just today, the Madison County Health Department in Kentucky has announced an investigation into a cluster of Salmonella illnesses that has occurred over the past week and a half in the county. Health Department spokesperson Christie Green says that the county has seen six cases recently that are all of the same strain. “Epidemiologists believe the cases may be a cluster with a common source of infection,” Green said. “However, the source remains unidentified,” and health officials continue to investigate.