Cucumber Food Poisoning Outbreak Reaches 418 Cases, 31 States

As the number of food poisoning cases linked to salmonella contaminated cucumbers continues to grow, federal health officials have identified a second distributor of the produce imported from Mexico.

According to the latest update provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on September 15, there are now at least 418 cases of salmonella poisoning linked to the cucumber food poisoning outbreak from 31 different states, resulting at least 91 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.

The outbreak first surfaced in July, but there has been a rapid increase in illnesses and hospitalizations in recent weeks. Just since September 9, at least 77 additional illnesses have been reported.

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The cucumber recall was first announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 4, indicating that the likely source of the Salmonella Poona outbreak stemed from cucumbers imported from Mexico by Andrew & Williams Fresh Produce of San Diego, California. That distributor recalled cucumbers sold under the name brand “Limited Edition Pole Grown Cucumbers”, which were sold in 22 states between August 1, 2015 and September 3, 2015.

The CDC now indicates that a second distributor has been identified for the cucumbers contaminated with the Salmonella Poona strain of bacteria.

On September 14, Custom Produce Sales of Parlier, California, recalled six lots of cucumbers sold under the “Fat Boy” name brand. The cucumbers were packaged in the following variations of name and size; Cucumber Carton 24’s Fat Boy Label, Cucumber Carton Super Select Fat Boy, Cucumber Carton 6 count Fat Boy Label, and Cucumber Carton 5 # Fat Boy Label. The potentially contaminated lot codes are 93968, 94506, 94550, 94522, 94513, and 93991. The products were imported from Mexico and distributed to Iowa, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The cucumber food poisoning outbreak has been difficult to contain, as most of the products were sold in bulk, without any individual plastic wrapping to grocers and markets. They were also commonly used in salads at restaurants and other food service establishments.

The cucumbers are commonly referred to as “Slicers” or “American” cucumbers, and are dark green in color, typically measuring 7 to 10 inches in length, with a diameter of 1.75 to 2.5 inches wide.

The FDA and CDC are unaware of the magnitude of the outbreak and anticipate further illness reports due to the average two to four weeks illness onset to reporting time. There are also concerns from unknown factors still about the outbreak, such as exactly how many cucumbers made it into commerce and what the contamination percentage the products were.

Salmonella poisoning can cause serious infections, with symptoms like fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain typically lasting for a few days in healthy individuals. The illness usually sets in 12 to 72 hours after consuming contaminated food and those symptoms typically lasts four to seven days.

Among individuals with a weakened immune system, such as the elderly, children or pregnant women, the illness can pose a much greater risk and may lead to death or still birth. In rare circumstances, the infection can even spread throughout the blood stream and cause arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis. According to the CDC, Salmonella bacterium has over 2,300 serotypes that account for roughly 1.4 million food borne illnesses per year and roughly 400 fatalities annually in the United States alone.


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