July 14, 2024

Salmonella Newport Outbreak in WA and OR: Why is Precut Fruit a Food Poisoning Risk?

A Salmonella Newport outbreak in Washington and Oregon has been linked to precut fruit sold at QFC, Fred Meyer, Rosauers, and Central Market stores. How is this possible? How can fruit, which doesn’t naturally carry pathogenic bacteria like meats and poultry do, be contaminated?

Precut fruit Salmonella

Most people don’t know that eating produce is the most common way people get food poisoning. In fact, Salmonella is the most common pathogen found on produce. The fruits and vegetables can be contaminated in the field by animal feces or by contaminated irrigation water. They can be contaminated during harvest, or during processing or transportation before they even get to the stores. And cutting fruits and vegetables at those stores or at distribution centers can multiply the problem.

Whenever a piece of fruit that has bacteria on its surface is cut, that bacteria is spread to the flesh of the fruit. That’s why consumers are told to always rinse off fruits and vegetables before they are cut. And when contaminated pieces of fruit are mixed with others, the bacteria spreads further. One contaminated piece of fruit, cut into pieces, can contaminate a large batch of food.

Public health officials in Washington are trying to determine the source of the fruit, where it was processed, and where it was cut and packaged. There may be more retailers that carried the recalled product.

This isn’t the first time that precut fruit has been contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. In 2014, Kirkland Signature Fruit was recalled at Costco stores for possible Salmonella contamination. No illnesses were linked to that recall.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after a person eats food contaminated with the bacteria.

Most people recover on their own without medical treatment after this infection, but some do get so sick they have to be hospitalized. Infants, pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with health problems are more likely to have severe complications after this illness.

If you ate precut watermelon, cantaloupe, or fruit mixes in Washington or Oregon and have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor. A Salmonella infection can have long term health complications even if you recover completely, so your doctor should be aware of this illness.

The experienced lawyers at the noted law firm Pritzker Hageman represent and helps people who have been sickened by contaminated food such as recalled contaminated fruit. We get answers,  justice, and compensation for those who have been injured through our work. Our lawyers represent clients sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against retailers, grocery stores, food processors, restaurants, growers, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker and his team recently won $7.5 million for a young client whose kidneys failed after he developed hemolytic uremic syndrome with an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Please note that class action lawsuits are usually not appropriate for outbreak victims because these types of cases are very unique.

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