At least 10 people who ate at Red Lobster restaurants in Minnesota have Salmonella infections from contaminated cucumbers. They are part of an outbreak that includes 285 people in 27 states. Fifty three people have been hospitalized, one person in California has died.
A recall has been issued for the cucumbers, grown in Baja, Mexico and supplied by Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego, California. Those sickened ate cucumbers purchased from grocery stores and in meals ordered from restaurants.
In Minnesota, a total of 12 Salmonella cases have been reported and six have been hospitalized. Those sickened range in age from 8 to 79. Their onset of symptoms, which include fever, nausea and diarrhea that can be bloody, began August 13 through August 25. They are from nine counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and greater Minnesota.
Red Lobster removed all cucumbers from its restaurants on Sept. 4 “even though a large majority of cases nationally were not exposed at a Red Lobster restaurant,” the Minnesota Department of Health said in a press release. “Confirmed cases in other states involved grocery stores, retailers and other restaurants.”
Grocery stores doing business with Andrew and Williamson include Fresh and Easy, Costco, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, HEB, Trader Joe’s, Albertsons, United, Sam’s Club, and Savemart. Restaurants served by Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce include Olive Garden, Red Lobster, The Capital Grille and In-n-Out Burger.
The cucumbers, known as “slicer” or “American” cucumbers, are dark green in color and between 7 and 10 inches long and between 1.75 inches to 2.5 inches in diameter. At grocery stores, they are typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping. Restaurants often slice these cucumbers for use in salads.
Health investigators used traceback investigations from illness clusters to identify cucumbers from Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of this outbreak. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency tested cucumbers collected from Andrew & Williamson’s and isolated Salmonella from cucumbers. Results of genetic “fingerprint” testing to see if the Salmonella strain matches the fingerprint of the strain collected form those who became ill are pending.
Nationwide, the illnesses were reported from July 3, 2015 to August 26, 2015. Fifty four percent of those sickened are children 18 and younger.
By state, the case count is as follows: Alaska (8), Arizona (60), Arkansas (6), California (51), Colorado (14), Idaho (8), Illinois (5), Kansas (1), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (12), Missouri (7), Montana (11), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (15), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (5), Oregon (3), South Carolina (6), Texas (9), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (9), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3).
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure, include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps lasting four to seven days. In some cases, the diarrhea is so severe that hospitalization is required. For these patients, there is a risk that the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream. This can be fatal if untreated.