Learn more about food safety supply chain management & traceability during the 2020 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference SeriesThe FDA and CDC have been investigating a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora involving bagged salads from Fresh Express since June. Although the products were recalled and should no longer be available in retail locations, the CDC continues to report more cases. As of August 12, 2020, the CDC counted 690 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections throughout 13 states. Thirty-seven people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
As the FDA conducted its traceback investigation to find the source of the outbreak linked to the Fresh Express products, the agency was able to identify several farms. It analyzed water samples from two public access points along a regional water management canal (C-23) west of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Using the FDA’s validated testing method, the samples tested positive for Cyclospora cayetanensis. However, it is important to note that the Cyclospora found might not be a direct match to the pathogen found in the clinical cases.
According to FDA: “Given the emerging nature of genetic typing methodologies for this parasite, the FDA has been unable to determine if the Cyclospora detected in the canal is a genetic match to the clinical cases, therefore, there is currently not enough evidence to conclusively determine the cause of this outbreak. Nevertheless, the current state of the investigation helps advance what we know about Cyclospora and offers important clues to inform future preventive measures.”
The agency’s traceback investigation is complete, but the cause or source of the outbreak has not been determined. The investigation also revealed that carrots are no longer of interest at as part of the outbreak, but red cabbage and iceberg lettuce are still being investigated. FDA is also working with Florida and the area’s local water district to learn more about the source of Cyclospora in the canal.
An outbreak of Cyclospora infections is being linked to bagged, garden salads sold at ALDI, Hy-Vee and Jewel-Osco grocery stores in six states across the Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska). The FDA, CDC and other state and local agencies are investigating the multistate outbreak, which has sickened 76 people and resulted in 16 hospitalizations. No deaths have been reported.
The FDA and CDC are recommending that consumers should not eat the products, and restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell the products, which fall under the following brand names: ALDI Little Salad Bar Brand Garden Salad from ALDI grocery stores, Hy-Vee Brand Garden Salad from Hy-Vee grocery stores, and Signature Farms Brand Garden Salad from Jewel-Osco. The illness onset date range is currently May 11–June 14, 2020.
As stated by CDC’s John Besser, Ph.D. last month at the Food Safety Consortium, “It’s been quite a year for outbreaks.” Here’s a not-so-fond look back at some of the noteworthy outbreaks and recalls of 2018.
Romaine Lettuce –E.coli O157:H7
2018 was not a good year for romaine lettuce. In the spring, a deadly multistate outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 was linked to romaine lettuce that came from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. “We knew right away that this was going to get bad and that it would get bad quickly,” said Matthew Wise, deputy branch chief for outbreak response at the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch of the CDC at the 2018 Food Safety Consortium. Although the CDC declared the outbreak over at the end of June, the total number of illnesses had reached 210, with five deaths.
Then in November it was revealed that contaminated lettuce was coming from growing regions in northern and central California. According to the latest update from FDA, there have been 59 reported illnesses, with 23 hospitalizations, across 16 states. No deaths have been reported. Earlier this month Adam Bros Farming, Inc. recalled red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and cauliflower, because it may have come into contact with water from the reservoir where the E. coli outbreak strain was found.
Raw Beef Products – Salmonella
At the beginning of the month, JBS Tolleson, Inc. expanded a recall of its non-intact raw beef products due to concerns of contamination with Salmonella Newport. More than 12 million pounds of product have been recalled. The latest CDC update put the reported case count at 333, with 91 hospitalizations across 28 states.
Shell Eggs – Salmonella
In April, Rose Acre Farms recalled more than 206 million eggs after FDA testing determined that eggs produced from the company’s farm were connected to 22 cases of Salmonella Braenderup infections. A total of 45 cases were reported across 10 states, with 11 hospitalizations, according to the CDC.
Pre-cut Melon – Salmonella
In June Caito Foods recalled its pre-cut melon products after a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Adelaide infections were traced back to the products. A total of 77 cases across nine states, with 36 hospitalizations, were reported.
Vegetable Trays – Cyclospora
In July, Del Monte recalled its vegetable trays that contained broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dill dip following confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in people who consumed the products. The CDC declared the outbreak over in September, with a final case count at 250 people across four states.
Salad Mix – Cyclospora
Fresh Express salad mix served at McDonalds was linked to a multistate outbreak of cyclosporiasus. The outbreak was declared over in September, with the final illness count at 511, and 24 hospitalizations.
Raw Turkey – Salmonella
Just before Thanksgiving an outbreak of Salmonella linked to raw turkey products was announced. Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales recalled more than 255,000 pounds of raw ground turkey products, however the CDC has not identified a single, common supplier that can account for this outbreak. As of the agency’s latest update on December 21, 216 cases have been reported across 38 states. The outbreak is responsible for 84 hospitalizations and one death.
Honey Smacks Cereal – Salmonella
The early summer outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal got a lot of press, and it didn’t help that even though the company recalled the product, many retailers continued to keep the cereal on their shelves. The last illness onset was reported at the end of August. A total of 135 people were reported ill, with 34 hospitalizations.
Duncan Hines Cake Mix – Salmonella
The company recalled four varieties of its cake mixes after a retail sample tested positive for Salmonella Agbeni.
Johnston County Hams – Listeria monocytogenes
The company recalled more than 89,000 pounds of RTE deli loaf ham products over concerns of adulteration with Listeria monocytogenes.
Other outbreaks involving Salmonella this year included dried and frozen coconut, pasta salad, chicken salad and raw sprouts.
Yesterday FDA provided an update on the multistate outbreak of Cyclospora infections “likely” linked to people who consumed salads from McDonald’s. The outbreak spans across 15 states and has infected 476 people, 21 of whom have been hospitalized. According to FDA’s latest release, the agency is reviewing distribution and supplier information for romaine lettuce and carrots.
Last month, USDA’s FSIS issued a public health alert on beef, pork and poultry salads and wraps, distributed by Caito Foods, LLC, that were potentially contaminated with Cyclospora. Fresh Express, Caito Foods’ supplier, had notified the company that the products with romaine lettuce were being recalled. However, no products related to this particular outbreak have been recalled, according to FDA. In addition, McDonald’s has reportedly ceased using the Fresh Express salad mix at restaurants impacted by the outbreak.
FDA stated that it currently does not have evidence suggesting that this Cyclospora outbreak is connected to the Cyclospora outbreak linked to Del Monte vegetable trays.
The latest report from CDC puts the laboratory-confirmed case count of cyclosporiasis in people who reportedly consumed contaminated Del Monte trays at 237. The infections are in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Seven people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
More than one month ago, Del Monte recalled 6- ,12-, and 28-ounce vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dill dip. The products were sold to Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, FoodMax Supermarket and Peapod. According to an FDA update, Del Monte is also recalling 28-ounce veggie trays that were distributed to Illinois and Indiana.
FDA, CDC and other federal agencies continue to investigate the multistate outbreak. They are advising that the vegetable trays are neither sold nor consumed.
More information is available on the CDC website.
Kellogg Company announced a voluntary recall of Honey Smacks cereal (15.3 oz and 23 oz) after it was uncovered there may be a presence of Salmonella. The products were distributed national wide as well as in Costa Rica, Guatamala, Mexico, the Caribbean, Guam, Tahiti and Saipan. The issue was uncovered after FDA and CDC were contacted regarding reported illnesses—at that point Kellogg initiated an investigation with the third-party manufacturer of Honey Smacks. The products have a Best If Used by Date of June 14, 2018 through June 14, 2019.
Following a potential link to a cluster of illnesses related to Cyclospora contamination, Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. initiated a voluntary recall of 6 oz., 12 oz. and 28 oz. vegetable trays containing fresh broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots, and dill dip sold to certain retailers in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin).
The products were distributed to Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, Food Max Supermarket and Peapod, and have a “Best By” date of June 17 or earlier.