December 10, 2016

Fifty-one Sick, One Dead in California Cucumber Salmonella Outbreak

The California Department of Public Health has reported that a Salmonella Poona outbreak in that state has sickened 51 people. One person has died. Those people live in 17 California counties. Illnesses are still being reported. It can take 2 to 4 weeks from the time someone becomes sick with food poisoning and the time the illness is reported to public health officials.

Salmonella photoEpidemiological evidence indicates that cucumbers imported from Baja Mexico by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego, California are the source of this outbreak. They were grown and packed by Rancho Don Juanito in Mexico. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency collected Salmonella bacteria from the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility. Those cucumbers were recalled on September 4, 2015.

The type of cucumber in this outbreak is called a “slicer” or “American” cucumber. It is usually about 7 to 10 inches long, dark green in color, and about 2″ in diameter. This cucumber is sold in bulk displays in grocery stores, with no brand information. If you purchased cucumbers from a grocery store since August 1 2015, check with that retailer to see if they were the recalled product. These cucumbers were also sold to restaurants, where they would typically have been part of a salad. If you ate at a restaurant since August 1, 2015, and ordered anything with cucumbers, and have been ill, see your doctor.

Ryan Osterholm

Attorney Ryan Osterholm is representing clients sickened in the Salmonella outbreak linked to imported cucumbers.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, that may be bloody. People usually get sick six to seventy-two hours after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria. Most recover within a week without medical attention, but some become so ill they must be hospitalized. Salmonella infections can be deadly, especially to children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses.

If you ate cucumbers in the last month or so and have been sick, see your doctor. The long term complications of a Salmonella infection, even if mild, can be serious. Reactive arthritis, irritable bowel disease, and heart problems can develop after this infection.

DNA fingerprinting is being conducted to discover the pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern of the outbreak strain of Salmonella. The results will be reported when available.

These cucumbers were sold nationwide, distributed to Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. They may have been sold in other states as well through regional distribution centers. They reached consumers through retail outlets such as grocery stores, food service companies, wholesalers, restaurants, and brokers.

These cucumbers may still be in consumers homes. If you aren’t sure whether or not you purchased the recalled product, call your grocery store and ask to speak to the produce manager. He or she should be able to tell you if they sold cucumbers by Andrews & Williamson. If you still aren’t sure, throw the cucumbers away in a sealed container so animals and other people can’t get at them.

Comments

  1. How did this get started. it sounds like some kind of germ warfare story. We take so much for granted that our food will not be tainted and poisoned..No this. Makes me want to grow my own produce. I was just think today how this outbreak is a perfect slow kill and people are downing these cuc’s left and right. What about Windset Farms from costco. Are those safe? I have eaten cucs alot for the last 2 weeks. Concerned.

    • Linda Larsen says:

      Bacteria are everywhere. Literally. Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, and Listeria bacteria are in animals, in groundwater, in the soil, and in the air. The cucumbers could have been contaminated at any point, from the field to the harvest to the packing to the distribution channels. These outbreaks happen very often. It’s not germ warfare; it’s life. The consumer is often the last line of defense against these outbreaks, and has to be very aware of how to clean produce and handle and cook meats. But even the most cautious consumer can make one tiny mistake.

      Our best defense, as a country, is to pressure our representatives to force companies to handle their products more carefully. Investigations of these outbreaks almost always show some violation of a food safety law somewhere.

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