December 9, 2022

Is 2018 the Summer of Salmonella Outbreaks and Lawsuits?

We are only a month into the summer of 2018, but so far this year there have been five multistate Salmonella outbreaks that have sickened at least 553 people. The outbreaks have been caused by Hy Vee Pasta Salad, Fareway Foods chicken salad, precut melons, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal, and raw turkey.¬†Of those sickened, more than 200 have been hospitalized because they are so ill. Two of those outbreaks have ended, but three are ongoing.

Summer of Salmonella Outbreaks

While raw turkey has been associated with Salmonella outbreaks before, grocery store salads and dry cereal are relatively new vehicles for this pathogen. These outbreaks show that any food, at any time, can be contaminated with enough bacteria to make someone sick. The most striking detail about these outbreaks is that four of the five were linked to ready-to-eat foods.

The first outbreak, a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to Fareway chicken salad, sickened 265 people in 8 states. Ninety-four patients were hospitalized, and one person in Iowa died. The salad was recalled. One of the outbreak strains of Salmonella was found in samples of the salad collected from two Fareway grocery stores in Iowa. The CDC declared the outbreak over in April.

A Salmonella Adelaide outbreak that sickened 77 people was linked to precut melons. Thirty-six people were hospitalized in that outbreak. This outbreak is an example of how processing produce can spread bacterial contamination to many different products.

The Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak has sickened 100 people in 33 states and has hospitalized 30. Kellogg’s recalled two sizes of that cereal on June 14, 2018; the CDC and FDA then warned consumers not to eat any size package of Honey Smacks with any expiration date. FDA inspections found the outbreak strain of Salmonella bacteria in the plant that produced the cereal.

In mid-July, the FDA announced a Salmonella outbreak linked to Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salads that has sickened 21 people in 5 states so far. Five people are hospitalized in that outbreak. Hy Vee has stopped selling the salad in all 244 of their stores located mostly in the midwest.

And finally, in the summer of Salmonella outbreaks, a Salmonella Reading outbreak linked to raw turkey products has sickened at least 90 people in 26 states. Forty people are hospitalized in that outbreak.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, nausea, abdominal and stomach cramps and pains, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody. If you have eaten any of these products and have been sick with these symptoms, see your doctor. A Salmonella infection can have long term health consequences, such as endocarditis or reactive arthritis, so information about this illness should be on your medical chart.

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