Recalled Cucumbers Linked To Salmonella Poisoning Illnesses and Hospitalizations Throughout U.S.

CDC has expressed certainty of the link between the recalled cucumbers and salmonella illnesses being reported, despite some strains found not matching

A multi-state salmonella outbreak linked to recalled Fresh Start cucumbers has sickened several hundred people nationwide, impacting individuals from at least 28 different states and the District of Columbia, according to federal disease experts.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that the salmonella illnesses and hospitalized may be linked to a cucumber recall issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late May. However, at that time, the agencies were still working to confirm the recalled cucumbers were responsible for the illnesses.

In an investigation update issued on June 12, the CDC indicates the outbreak has grown to include at least 196 reported illnesses, with at least 68 of the salmonella infections serious enough to require hospitalization.

CDC Questions Link to Recalled Cucumbers

Despite the apparent link between the food poisonings and cucumbers recalled by Fresh Start, the ongoing investigation’s findings do raise some questions about whether the vegetables are the direct cause of the outbreak.

In its latest update, the CDC notes that the cucumbers, grown in Florida, appear to be contaminated with a different strain of salmonella, Salmonella Bareilly, than the strain being detected in victims of the outbreak, Salmonella Africana. This could suggest the cucumbers are contaminated with two different strains of salmonella, that the outbreak has a different source, or that there may be an undetected salmonella outbreak, yet to be discovered, caused by the strain detected in the cucumbers. However, the CDC still indicates there is a high level of confidence that the outbreak is connected to contaminated cucumbers.

“State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. Of the 85 people interviewed, 63 (74%) reported eating cucumbers,” the CDC noted. “This percentage was significantly higher than the 50% of respondents who reported eating cucumbers in the FoodNew Population Survey – a survey that helps estimate how often people eat various foods linked to diarrheal illness. This difference suggests that people in this outbreak got sick from eating cucumbers.”

The CDC is not currently investigating another outbreak of illnesses linked to the new strain, only the initial outbreak.

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Fresh Start Cucumber Recall

The cucumbers affected by the May 30 recall 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 were not sold under a specific brand name.

They were grown in Florida and shipped from May 17 to May 21. Though they 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 from Salmonella food poisoning. They may require 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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