Sept 05 2008 UPDATE – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that the largest outbreak of food borne illness in the past decade appears to be over. The Food and Drug Administration has removed its warning for consumers to avoid eating raw jalapenos and serrano peppers grown or packed in Mexico.
A total of 1,442 people were sickened by the rare saintpaul strain of salmonella and more than 286 were hospitalized. The CDC says that the infection may have also contributed to at least two deaths. The agency has announced that the number of cases linked to the type of salmonella responsible for the outbreak has now dropped to a normal level for this time of year.
The first documented case of illness began on April 16, and the last was on August 11. Most people were sickened in May or June. The only sates with no reported cases were Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Jul 31 2008 UPDATE –Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration believe they may have finally found the source of the Salmonella outbreak that has affected more than 1,200 people since late April. Laboratory testing has confirmed that a sample of a serrano pepper and a sample of irrigation water from a farm in Tamaulipas, Mexico are contaminated with saintpaul Salmonella – the same strain of bacteria that is responsible for the current rash of illnesses in the United States.
Traceback studies of food eaten by those sickened showed that the peppers originated in Mexico. Federal regulators are now encouraging consumers to avoid raw serrano peppers and raw jalapeno peppers from Mexico, as well as any foods that include them.
Jul 22 2008 UPDATE –Federal regulators say that they may be one step closer to solving the mystery of the salmonella outbreak that has sickened over 1,000 people across the country. Investigators found a strain of the saintpaul bacteria responsible for the outbreak on a jalapeno pepper imported from Mexico. It is hoped that this most recent clue will lead investigators to the source of the outbreak.
The contaminated pepper was found at a distribution center in McAllen, TX, and the distributor has agreed to recall the produce. The Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers not to eat raw jalapenos or products made with them.
Jul 21 2008 UPDATE –After months of investigation and hundreds of hospitalizations, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted its warning on tomatoes, once believed to be the source of the recent salmonella outbreak. While the source of the outbreak is still unknown, the agency left in place a warning about raw jalapeno and serrano peppers.
Since April, the salmonella saintpaul bacteria has infected more than 1,190 people in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. At least 224 people have been hospitalized and two elderly men with pre-existing conditions died while infected with the bacteria. According to the FDA, about 20 to 30 reports of the illness are coming in everyday.
Jul 10 2008 UPDATE –More than 1,000 people are now confirmed ill from salmonella originally attributed to raw tomatoes, making this the worst food borne illness outbreak in more than a decade. In addition to tomatoes, the government is now warning certain people to avoid eating types of hot peppers as well.
The government said that raw tomatoes – red round, plum, and Roma – are still the primary suspects. Based on investigations of people who ate at the same event or restaurant, however, the Centers for Disease Control is warning people at high risk of severe illness to avoid eating raw jalapeno and Serrano peppers. The most vulnerable are infants, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that neither tomatoes nor peppers can be the sole culprit for the outbreak and is looking for farms that may have grown both tomatoes and peppers or distribution centers that handled both types of produce. Approximately 25 to 40 new salmonella cases have been reported every day for weeks, bringing the total number of illness to 1,017. The most recent case was reported on June 26, and two deaths have been associated with the outbreak.
Jul 1 2008 UPDATE – Federal investigators are now saying that fresh tomatoes may not necessarily be the cause of the recent salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds across the country. The number of those who have fallen ill has surpassed 900, with the most recent sicknesses reported on June 20.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that there is still strong evidence linking tomatoes to the outbreak, it has launched a new round of interviews to determine whether or not another food is responsible. Uncertainty over the source of the outbreak has arisen because the most recently reported illnesses occurred well after grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers were warned about the dangers of raw red Roma, red round, and red plum tomatoes. Cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and Serrano peppers are now being investigated as possible culprits.
Food safety experts say that if another food is found to be the cause of the outbreak, it will ruin the public's trust in the government's ability to trace foodborne illnesses. So far, 1,700 samples of other possible sources have tested negative.
Jun 27 2008 UPDATE – State health officials have confirmed that at least one person from Butler County, PA has been sickened by food poisoning linked to salmonella-contaminated tomatoes. Additionally, four other people were sickened in May in Bucks, Butler, Lancaster, and Warren counties.
Thus far, over 750 people have contracted salmonella from the tainted tomatoes and at least 95 have been hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that most people fell ill weeks ago, but their cases had not yet been counted. The agency said that the sudden increase in reported illnesses resulted from an end to the backlog of test results in labs. The last new cases were reported on June 13.
States cleared as safe producers
States where people fell ill
Jun 13 2008 UPDATE –The number of those sickened with salmonellosis from contaminated tomatoes has jumped to over 350 as additional reports of illnesses were received from six new states. Residents of Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, and Vermont have suffered salmonella poisoning from the rare saintpaul bacteria strain. It has also been discovered that the food poisoning could have contributed to the death of a 67-year-old cancer patient in Texas.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has been saying all week that they are close to pinpointing the source of the contamination, they have since stepped back from that assertion. In addition, because the newest illnesses struck on June 1, government officials are not yet sure if all tainted tomatoes have been removed from the market.
Jun 10 2008 ORIGINAL ALERT –Effects of the recent salmonella outbreak being spread by contaminated raw tomatoes have reached western Pennsylvania. Giant Eagle, which has 223 supermarkets throughout western PA, West Virginia, and Ohio, has pulled potentially dangerous tomatoes from store shelves.
The salmonella outbreak, caused by a rare strain of the bacteria called saintpaul, has sickened at least 150 people and hospitalized 23 in 16 states. Giant Eagle, which is based in O'Hara Township, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is joined by other supermarkets such as Kroger, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie, and Safeway in pulling the contaminated produce from store shelves. Restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King, Olive Garden, and Cheesecake Factory are also taking precautions and removing raw tomatoes from their menus.
The Food and Drug Administration has announced that the salmonella food poisoning can be attributed to raw Roma, plum, and red round tomatoes and has advised consumers to avoid eating these varieties. Salmonella is a bacterium that is usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. The most common symptoms of salmonella food poisoning are fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps that start 12 to 72 hours after infection and normally last four to seven days.