We have recently learned of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in 5 states between January 10 to February 15 of this year linked to Lebanon bologna from Palmyra Bologna Company, of Palmyra, PA. The illnesses led to the recall of approximately 23,000 pounds of the bologna.
It turns out that Palmyra has been down this road before. In 1995, an outbreak of SalmonellaTyphimurium was linked to that same Palmyra product. A 1997 investigation by Charles J. Sauer and three others at USDA detailed the outbreak.
Palmyra’s 1995 outbreak led to 26 confirmed cases. The contaminated bologna was purchased from at least five different retailers. Investigation of the cause of the outbreak suggested that the product, and others like it, might be at risk where there were high numbers of bacteria in the raw beef used in manufacture, as it was not heat treated. Also as a result of the lack of heat-treatment, investigators concluded that a number of important process controls were necessary. Due to incomplete record keeping it could not be established whether the plant failed in maintaining the process controls, or whether the raw beef used as an ingredient in the product had carried unusually high numbers of bacteria.