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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Latest Salmonella Outbreak

By October 15, 2013

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There have eight Salmonella outbreaks so far this year. Although contaminated chicken has been the most common cause of Salmonella outbreaks this year, we have also seen outbreaks caused by cucumbers, ground beef, and tahini sesame paste.

This latest outbreak is once again caused by contaminated chicken and both the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service have stated that "Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak."

So far, in this ongoing outbreak, 317 people have gotten sick in 20 states and Puerto Rico and 42% have required hospitalization. Surprisingly, 13% have developed blood infections, which is much higher than the usual 5%. This may be a consequence of this outbreak being caused by a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella.

While there was initially no recall and "Foster Farms submitted and implemented immediate substantive changes to their slaughter and processing to allow for continued operations," it is important to note that Foster Farms was linked to another Salmonella outbreak from June 2012 to May 2013 that got 134 people sick in 13 states. The CDC also reports that "Foster Farms chicken was previously linked to illness in a 2004 investigation by Washington and USDA-FSIS."

The outbreak has triggered one recall though. A Costco in California is recalling 39,755 lbs. of cooked rotisserie chicken products that were sold at its store.

Hopefully, enough staff will be available as the government shutdown continues to allow for the USDA-FSIS plan to "continue intensified sampling and testing of chicken products from these facilities for at least the next 90 days."

And since we have to assume that all chicken can be contaminated with Salmonella, this outbreak is also a good reminder to:

  • clean your hands, utensils, dishes, and food contact surfaces, etc., before and after handling raw poultry
  • separate raw poultry at all times, from when you buy and store it in your refrigerator, to when you prepare it
  • cook poultry to at least 165F
  • chill leftovers promptly

Parents should also remember to seek medical attention if their kids have any symptoms of Salmonella, including diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

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CDC - Multistate Outbreak of Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Heidelberg Infections Linked to Foster Farms Brand Chicken
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