Salmonella in the news

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Houston-based Ron Simon & Associates as well as Gomez Trial Attorneys of San Diego, Calif., filed suit against Foster Farms LLC after a Salmonella outbreak resulted in more than 600 illnesses, according to a press release issued by the national food-safety law firm report. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs claiming to have been victims of the outbreak after the company was made aware of the possibility of the danger associated with the chicken. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified punitive damages.

The law firm alleges Foster Farms sold chicken that the company knew was contaminated. In a statement, Foster Farms said the lawsuit is without merit.

In North Carolina, at least seven individuals were hospitalized and one person died in connection to a Salmonella outbreak linked to Tarheel Q in Lexington, NC, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS ) reported. The unidentified patient had an underlying health condition that was the primary cause of death. However, the individual did have symptoms of salmonellosis.

The NCDHHS reported 248 cases of diarrheal illnesses associated with eating food from the restaurant. The agency reported that 79 percent of cases had illness onset dates between June 16 and June 21. NCDHHS reported the outbreak includes 19 counties in North Carolina and five states. Barbecue from the restaurant and a sample from a patient who became ill at the beginning of the outbreak tested positive for Salmonella Typhimurium, the agency said. Both samples also have the same DNA fingerprint.

Tarheel Q voluntarily closed the restaurant for several days to sanitize the facility and to conduct employee food safety training. The restaurant re-opened on July 1, according to local news reports. Public health officials are encouraging diners who became sick within four days after buying food or drinks at Tarheel Q to call the Davidson County Health Department. Several lawsuits are pending.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported that illnesses linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned stuffed chicken involved two separate strains of Salmonella bacteria from two distinct unrelated producers.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported that several individuals became sick with Salmonella enteritidis in two separate outbreaks. Public health officials linked the first outbreak to Barber Foods Chicken Kiev. Four individuals were sickened, two people were hospitalized. On July 2, Barber Foods of Portland, Maine initiated a recall of 58,320 lbs. of frozen, raw stuffed chicken. The products were shipped to Sam's Club locations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Three individuals were sickened in the second outbreak from May 9 to June 8. Investigators linked the second outbreak to Antioch Farms brand Cordon Bleu raw stuffed chicken breast. Including the most recent cases, there have been nine outbreaks of salmonellosis in Minnesota linked to these types of products since 1998, MDH noted. The agency said improvements were made to the labeling of raw, stuffed chicken products in 2008, but three outbreaks have occurred since 2014 that were related to similar chicken products.

“These chicken products are raw, breaded and pre-browned and often found near pre-cooked products at the grocery store, so even though the current labels state that the product is raw, consumers could mistakenly think the product is pre-cooked,” Carlota Medus, epidemiologist for the Foodborne Illness Unit at MDH, said in a public health notice. “Another problem is that consumers could accidentally contaminate their hands and kitchen surfaces prior to cooking. Since these products are pre-browned and often cooked from the frozen state, they may appear safer when handling than other raw meats that may be noticeably dripping juices.”

Finally, the Central District Health Department in Boise reported 40 additional illnesses related to a Salmonella outbreak associated with the Boise Co-Op deli. As of July 1, there have been 290 reported cases, up from 250 reported in June. The specific cause of the outbreak has not been determined, but preliminary tests showed Salmonella bacteria growth in raw turkey, tomatoes and onion.
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