CDC “Final” Report.
As of April 22, 2019, a total of 358 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading were reported from 42 states and the District of Columbia. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.
Illnesses started on dates from November 20, 2017, to March 31, 2019 . Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 101, with a median age of 42. Forty-eight percent of ill people were female. Of 302 people with information available, 133 (44%) were hospitalized. One death was reported from California.
State and local health departments interviewed ill people about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of the 200 ill people interviewed, 130 (65%) reported preparing or eating turkey products that were purchased raw, including ground turkey, turkey pieces, and whole turkeys. Ill people reported buying many different brands of raw turkey products from multiple stores. Also, 4 of the 200 ill people interviewed became sick after pets in their home ate raw ground turkey pet foodexternal icon. Five of the 200 ill people interviewed worked in a facility that raises or processes turkeys, or lived with someone who did. In February 2019, 47 people became ill after eating turkey that was not handled properly at an event in Iowa.
Public health officials in Arizona and Michigan collected unopened Jennie-O brand ground turkey from the homes of ill people. Officials in Minnesota also collected raw turkey pet food that was served to pets in ill people’s homes. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading was identified in samples of the ground turkey and the raw turkey pet food. WGS showed that Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people, from ground turkey, and from raw turkey pet food were all closely related genetically. These results provided more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating or handling turkey products.
Several Jennie-O brand ground turkey products were recalled in November and December 2018. Raws for Paws recalled raw turkey pet food in February 2018, and Woody’s Pet Food Deli recalled raw turkey pet food in January 2019.
The outbreak strain was also identified in samples from raw turkey products from 24 slaughter and 14 processing establishments. The samples collected by FSIS at these slaughter and processing establishments were part of FSIS’s routine testing under the Salmonella performance standards. Furthermore, WGS showed that the Salmonella strain isolated from these samples is closely related genetically to the Salmonella strain from ill people.
Available data indicate that this strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and in raw turkey products. A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys was not identified that could account for the whole outbreak.
So, I thought I would reuse a post from the beginning of this outbreak.
Personally, as I said to the Los Angeles Times some time ago, “I think that anything that can poison or kill a person should be listed as an adulterant [in food].”
Ignoring Salmonella in meat makes little, if any, sense. Even after the Court’s twisted opinion in Supreme Beef v. USDA, where it found Salmonella “not an adulterant per se, meaning its presence does not require the USDA to refuse to stamp such meat ‘inspected and passed’, ” our government’s failure to confront the reality of Salmonella, especially antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, is inexcusable.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court in Kriefall v Excel called it as it saw it:
The E. coli strain that killed Brianna and made the others sick is a “deleterious substance which may render [meat] injurious to health.” There is no dispute about this. Thus, under the first part of 21 U.S.C. § 601(m)(1), meat that either “bears or contains” E. coli O157:H7 (the “deleterious substance”) is “adulterated.” That E. coli O157:H7 contamination can be rendered non-“injurious to health” by cooking thoroughly, as discussed below, does not negate this; Congress used the phrase “may render,” not “in every circumstance renders.” Moreover, if the E. coli bacteria is not considered to be “an added substance,” because it comes from some of the animals themselves and is not either applied or supplied during the slaughtering process (although we do not decide this), it cannot be said that the E. coli strain “does not ordinarily render [the meat on or in which it appears] injurious to health.” Accordingly, meat contaminated by E. coli O157:H7 is also “adulterated” under the second part of § 601(m)(1).
Now, why would Salmonella be different? According to the CDC, it is estimated that 1.4 million cases of salmonellosis occur each year in the United States. Of those cases, 95 percent are related to foodborne causes. Approximately 220 of each 1,000 cases result in hospitalization, and 8 of every 1,000 cases result in death. About 500 to 1,000 deaths – 31 percent of all food-related deaths – are caused by Salmonella infections each year.
So, where do we stand with the existing USDA/FSIS law on adulteration? Here is the law:
(m) The term “adulterated” shall apply to any carcass, part thereof, meat or meat food product under one or more of the following circumstances:
(1) if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health; but in case the substance is not an added substance, such article shall not be considered adulterated under this clause if the quantity of such substance in or on such article does not ordinarily render it injurious to health; …
(3) if it consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance or is for any other reason unsound, unhealthful, unwholesome, or otherwise unfit for human food;
(4) if it has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health; …
Hmmm. It is hard to read the above and not think that the words in bold equate to all E. coli and Salmonella — frankly, all pathogens in food. I know, I am just a lawyer, but don’t ya think that when food with animal feces (and a dash of E. coli O157:H7) in it is considered an adulterant, that other animal feces (with dashes of other pathogens, like Salmonella) in them, should be considered adulterated too? But, hey, that is just me. Another odd governmental fact is that the FDA does not seem to make a distinction between pathogens it considers adulterants or not. FDA’s enabling legislation – Sec. 402. [21 USC §342] of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act also defines “Adulterated Food” as food that is:
(a) Poisonous, insanitary, or deleterious ingredients.
(1) If it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health; but in case the substance is not an added substance such food shall not be considered adulterated under this clause if the quantity of such substance in such food does not ordinarily render it injurious to health;
(2) If it bears or contains any added poisonous or added deleterious substance … that is unsafe within the meaning of section 406;
(3) if it consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance, or if it is otherwise unfit for food;
(4) if it has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health …
It would be interesting, and perhaps entertaining, to have House and Senate hearings focusing on what should and should not be considered adulterants in our food. I can see panels of scientists from various fields, FDA, USDA and FSIS officials, beef and produce industry representatives, and consumers discussing this. I would pay to watch it.
Salmonella: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
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.