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Over 600 Cases in California Salmonella Outbreak

June 26, 2014

salmonellaAn outbreak of salmonella that began in October 2013 shows no signs of abating as the case count reached 601 this week. 27 new cases were reported by the California Department of Public Health, which has now seen 468 cases, the most of any state involved.

The outbreak has so far spread to 27 states and Puerto Rico, with 37% of cases receiving hospital treatment. So far there have been no fatalities. Patients range from one year old to 93 with a median age of 18. Initial investigations involved products from Californian producer Foster Farms sold directly to consumers by bulk outlet Costco. In a letter from US Department of Agriculture to Foster Farms last October, the department said inspectors had documented “fecal material on carcasses” along with “poor sanitary dressing practices, insanitary food contact surfaces, insanitary non-food contact surfaces and direct product contamination.” The company have co-operated with the authorities and reported this month that measured rates of salmonella in their products have been regularly decreasing, with latest figures suggesting only 2% of chickens tested were contaminated with salmonella.

The outbreak has highlighted problems with current US law over the recall of infected products. US Democrat Representative Rosa L Delauro is now trying to introduce legislation to guarantee action is taken to remove contaminated meat, poultry and egg products from the market. Her proposal would require the USDA to recall meat, poultry and egg products contaminated by pathogens linked to serious illness or death, or that are resistant to two or more “critically important antibiotics for human medicine.”