And I thought the last installment of this running Salmonella outbreak tally was compelling. To bring things up-to-date, however, there are several additional major salmonella outbreaks to report on–outbreaks that have caused, conservatively, many thousands of people across the country to suffer severe illnesses. The culprits: Taco Bell; shell eggs; and frozen mamey pulp.
First, however, to recap, here is a selection of ten major Salmonella outbreaks that occurred from January to July 2010:
1. ConAgra’s Marie Calendar’s brand Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen entrees
2. Skokie Country Club Outbreak
3. Caldwell Fresh Foods Sprouts Outbreak
4. Utah Raw Milk Outbreak
5. Casa Lopez Outbreak in Ohio
6. Los Dos Amigos Outbreak
7. Subway Outbreak in Illinois
8. Salami and Pepper Outbreak
9. Chico "Margarita Mix Off" Outbreak
10. Salmonella spinach and lettuce outbreaks/recalls
Two other outbreaks in recent months are worthy of note, and the question is whether they are part of a larger outbreak more national in scope. We recently reported on a Salmonella outbreak at the Fort restaurant in Morrison, Colorado that sickened nearly 30 people. At the time, Colorado health officials stated that the CDC and FDA were involved in the investigation, trying to determine whether the Fort outbreak was linked to larger national outbreak of identical illnesses.
The suspicious larger national outbreak was, of course, announced yesterday. The CDC stated that it has seen a four-fold increase (from around 50 to around 200) in weekly reports of a particular strain of Salmonella enteritidis from multiple states since May. Salmonella enteritidis is a strain that is extremely common, and is also commonly associated with eggs. Also yesterday, Wright County Egg company from Iowa issued a large national recall of its shell egg products. The eggs affected by this recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and foodservice companies in California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. These companies distribute nationwide.
And then there is the rash of Salmonella enteritidis illnesses that struck Kenosha County, Wisconsin, in June. Many of the illnesses, including that of our client Tanja Dzinovic, were linked to Baker Street Restaurant and Pub. Our current question: were the Baker street illnesses linked to Wright County Egg too?
Currently, the CDC counts 155 cases of Salmonella Baildon and Hartford in many states linked to a “national Mexican restaurant chain” now, due in large part to our lawsuit on behalf of Jo Ann Smith, known to be Taco Bell. The Taco Bell outbreak is national in scope, having caused illness from April through July (with a peak in late may and june).
And finally, an outbreak of typhoid fever in California and Nevada has been traced to Goya brand frozen mamey pulp. The CDC has identified 5 people in California and 4 in Southern Nevada with Typhoid fever linked to the outbreak. Typhoid fever is caused by infection with Salmonella Typhi, and can be a life-threatening disease. It is very rare in the US, with only about 400 cases reported each year. It can take up to 8 weeks for someone who has been infected to show symptoms, so it is very likely that the numbers in this outbreak will grow.
Mamey is also called sapote or zapote, and is a tropical fruit grown primarily in Central and South America. It is prepared by removing the inner seed and consuming the flesh raw, or adding it to milkshakes, jellies, or other foods or beverages. When preparing frozen mamey fruit pulp, it is peeled and mashed, and then consumed as a shake or smoothie. Frozen mamey pulp is available in grocery stores throughout the US. Packages have a shelf life of 2-3 years. The product has been recalled from grocery stores, and consumers should check their freezers.
It is widely known that foodpoisoning illnesses are underreported nationally, meaning that only a fraction of the total cases of illness are ever detected by medical providers and public health authorities. For Salmonella specifically, it is estimated that, in any outbreak situation, the actual number of Salmonella victims is as many as 38 times the number of “confirmed cases.” Thus, in the three new outbreaks summarized above, in all likelihood there are tens of thousands of victims nationally.