May 28, 2024

10 Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks Of 2012

The 10 largest multi-state food poisoning outbreaks of 2012 poisoned 1,071 people in 45 states. Various strains of just three pathogens- Salmonella, E.coli and  Listeria were the cause of the 10 largest multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks, based on the total number of people sickened.  Six of them were caused by Salmonella, three by E.coli and one by Listeria.  These dangerous bacteria  made their way into unsuspecting consumers through a variety of food sources including  meat, cheese, fish, peanut butter, fruit and vegetables.

PathogenThree of the foods: tuna, cheese and mangoes were imported.  Five of the food sources: cantaloupe, ground beef, spinach and spring mix, clover sprouts, and peanut butter, were produced domestically. (The specific food source for two of the outbreaks was not determined.)

As is the case with all reported food poisoning outbreaks, the reported number of people sickened is people with confirmed cases of infection from a pathogen, which is done by culturing a stool sample. So, the total number of people sickened in these, and other outbreaks, is actually much greater. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a multiplier  specific to each pathogen to estimate the actual number of people sickened. Salmonella and E. coli, for example have multipliers of 7 and 8 respectively, meaning if a Salmonella outbreak has 100 confirmed cases, the likely number of those actually sickened is 700.

Geographically, these outbreaks reached all but five states: Alaska, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah.  Patients ranged in age from less than 1 year old to 100 years old. At least 269 of the case patients were so sick they required hospitalization. Eight people died.

Over the last ten days, Food Poisoning Bulletin has published summaries of all  ten of these outbreaks. To read them, search our site. A list of the outbreaks  follows.

The  28-state Salmonella, tuna scrape outbreak  was the  largest sickening 425 people and  hospitalizing 55 hospitalizations. The second largest was the  Salmonella, cantaloupe outbreak that sickened 261 people in 24 states, hospitalizing 94 and killing three. The 15-state  Salmonella mango outbreak was third sickening  127 people and  hospitalizing 33 hospitalizations. The 10-state Salmonella  outbreak associated with food served at some Taco Bell restaurants was fourth,  sickening 68 people and hospitalizing  21. No. 5 was a Salmonella outbreak linked to ground beef produced by Cargill which sickened 46 people and hospitalized 12.

No. 6 was the 20-state Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter produced by Sunland which sickened 42 people and put 10 in the the hospital. The seventh was an E.coli outbreak linked to spinach an spring mix salad greens that sickened 33 people in five states and hospitalized 13. The eighth was  E coli from clover sprouts served at a sandwich shop chain that sickened 29 people in 11 states and caused seven  hospitalizations. No. 9 was an imported cheese Listeria outbreak that sickened 22 people in 14 states. Almost all of the patients, 20, were hospitalized and four people died. The food source of the tenth largest outbreak was never discovered, but it sickened 18 people in nine states, hospitalizing four. One person, a small child, died.


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