FDA Identifies 2 Strains of Salmonella in Recalled Cucumbers, Which Have Been Linked to Nearly 450 Illnesses Nationwide

Though no longer on store shelves, recalled cucumbers contaminated with salmonella may still be in consumers' refrigerators or pre-prepared meals.

Federal safety officials have identified two distinct strains of salmonella in a nationwide food poisoning outbreak associated with recalled cucumbers, which has sickened hundreds of individuals nationwide. However, there continue to be questions about whether all of the cases are linked to the same products.

Following a month long investigation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an update on the contaminated Fresh Start cucumber investigation on July 2, indicating that a total of 449 people have been infected with strains of Salmonella Africana or Salmonella Braenderup, with nearly 70% of individuals interviewed reporting that they ate cucumbers before the illness.

The FDA first announced a massive cucumber recall on May 30, after the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture found salmonella in a cucumber sample. Though regulators were aware of a salmonella outbreak at the time, investigators were unsure if it was linked to the recalled cucumbers, and the identification of two separate strains raises questions about whether additional products may be contaminated.

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In mid-June, the CDC reported that cucumbers from Florida were contaminated with Salmonella Bareilly, a different strain than the Salmonella Africana found in outbreak victims.

During their investigation, the FDA inspected Bedner Growers, Inc., a supplier for Fresh Start Produce Sales, Inc., and samples colleged revealed Salmonella Braenderup in untreated canal water used by the grower. Whole Genome Sequencing confirmed that the Salmonella strain in the water matches the strain causing some of the outbreak illnesses. Additional Salmonella strains were also found in soil and water samples at Bedner Growers, Inc. The CDC and FDA are investigating if these strains have caused illnesses in people.

By July 1, 2024, U.S. investigators have confirmed 449 cases of infection with the outbreak strains Salmonella Africana and Salmonella Braenderup across 31 states and the District of Columbia. The newly identified strain accounts for 215 of these cases. Among 188 interviewed patients, 129 (69%) mentioned eating cucumbers.

Fresh Start Cucumber Recall

The recalled cucumbers were sold in bulk by Fresh Start to retail distribution centers, wholesalers, and food service distributors in 14 states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. However, the CDC and FDA warn that those sellers may have shipped the cucumbers to additional states or repackaged them for other stores. The cucumbers, grown in Florida and shipped from May 17 to May 21, were not sold under a specific brand name.

Investigators warn that though the cucumbers should no longer be on store shelves, some may still be in consumer refrigerators or prepared meals. The recall does not include English cucumbers or mini cucumbers.

The CDC warned consumers not to eat recalled cucumbers if they still have them at home, and wash any items or surfaces that may have come into contact with the produce, using soap and hot water. Because the cucumbers were not sold under a specific brand name, consumers should check with the store where their cucumbers were purchased to determine if they are part of the recall.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Fresh Start Product Sales at 1-888-364-2993.

Salmonella Food Poisoning Risks

Salmonella food poisoning can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Symptoms usually begin about 6 hours to 6 days after consuming the bacteria. However, most people recover on their own without medical treatment within roughly one week.

Some people with a weakened immune system, people older than 65, and young children may experience serious symptoms, requiring medical treatment and hospitalization. In severe cases, salmonella infection can be fatal.

People who are experiencing symptoms of salmonella poisoning should call their doctor or seek medical treatment if they experience any of these things:

  • Diarrhea or a fever higher than 102°F
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Unable to keep liquids down
  • Dehydration, including symptoms such as not urinating, dry mouth and throat, dizziness when standing.

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