October 20, 2019

Kwik Trip Del Monte Vegetable Tray Salmonella Outbreak: What Happened?

The new Kwik Trip Del Monte vegetable tray Salmonella Infantis outbreak that was announced on May 21, 2019 by the Wisconsin Department of Health has sickened four people: one in Minnesota and three in Wisconsin. This is the second time that product has been linked to an outbreak: in 2018, hundreds were sickened by cyclospora infections linked to that company’s vegetables. How do these vegetables get contaminated in the first place?

Kwik Trip Del Monte Vegetable Tray Salmonella Outbreak: What Happened?

Unfortunately, produce and Salmonella are a common pair. There are several ways that produce can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Contamination can occur at any point along the farm to fork path.

First, produce can be contaminated in the field. This has happened because of animal activity in a farm field. The irrigation water that was used on the plants may be contaminated with pathogens. Or ill workers used to harvest the produce could have caused the contamination.

Second, contamination can happen when the vegetables are transported. Shipping containers that aren’t cleaned can be one source of pathogens. Dirty trucks, or conveyor belts used at the farm can carry bacteria such as Salmonella.

Third, contamination can occur at the factory where the vegetables are cleaned, processed, and packaged. Bacteria are everywhere, but if they are in facilities at sufficient quantities, food processed in those facilities can pick up the pathogens.

The modern food processing and packaging system is also one of the risk factors for contamination, simply because one batch of contaminated food can contaminate many pounds of product. That product is then shipped all over  the country. Contaminated vegetables from one farm field can make people in many different states sick.

We asked food safety attorneys Ryan Osterholm and Lindsay Lien Rinholen about this outbreak. They are in the midst of litigation on behalf of more than 100 people who were sickened by the last outbreak linked to Del Monte produce. Lindsay said, “This raises some serious questions about Del Monte’s food safety program — to have an outbreak caused by the same products two years in a row.” Ryan added “We see some companies really stand behind their products and make things right. Other companies fight tooth and nail to avoid responsibility. Right now, my clients have unpaid medical bills, lost wages. They are hurting and Del Monte is fighting.”

The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning include a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, abdominal and stomach pains and cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody. Symptoms start 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the pathogen. If you have eaten from a Del Monte Vegetable Tray sold at Kwik Trip stores or any other location and have been sick with these symptoms, see your doctor. You could be part of this Salmonella outbreak.

 

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