On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a 12-state Salmonella outbreak linked to tainted chicken produced by Foster Farms Inc, based in Livingston, Calif. Most of the 124 illnesses occurred in Oregon and Washington state which have a combined total of 94 cases. The 30 remaining cases were in 10 states that the agency did not name saying, “At this time, CDC is not releasing the names of the other states until it is determined how these illnesses are linked to this outbreak.”
The CDC generally releases the names of all states included in a multi-state outbreak. It’s unclear why the agency has chosen not to do so in this instance or why the announcement came so late. Health officials have known about the outbreak, which began in June, for months. They have used DNA “fingerprints” of the Salmonella Heidelberg strain and PulseNet, a nationwide network of public health and regulatory laboratories, to identify cases that are part of the outbreak, according to the CDC announcement. If there are 30 cases in 10 states that match the outbreak strain and their number have been included in the agency’s own report of the total number of people sickened, why not name the states, wonders food safety attorney Fred Pritzker. “All consumers, including those who are part of this outbreak, have a right to know what state and federal investigators of foodborne illness outbreaks have discovered.”
In Washington, 56 people are part of the outbreak as are 28 people form Oregon. Those who became ill range in age from less than 1 to 94 years old. The median age of cases patients is 23. Almost a third of the patients required hospitalization.