Outbreak strain of Salmonella found in recalled snack

Jul 6, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The strain of Salmonella associated with 57 recent illnesses in 18 states has been found in a recalled snack called Veggie Booty, confirming interview-based evidence linking the product to the outbreak.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture announced this week it had found Salmonella Wandsworth, a strain it said has not been implicated in a US foodborne outbreak before, in a sealed package of the snack.

The outbreak prompted the snack's manufacturer, Robert's American Gourmet, based in Sea Cliff, N.Y., to issue a nationwide recall last week. Interviews with sick and well persons had previously pointed to consumption of Veggie Booty as the common factor among patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Veggie Booty is made of puffed rice and corn with a vegetable coating and is sold in flexible plastic foil bags in 4-ounce, 1-ounce, and half-ounce sizes. Last week the company recalled another snack, Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks, because the same vegetable seasoning is used in both products. The CDC said it was not aware of any illness cases related to Crunchy Corn Sticks.

In a Jul 3 statement, the CDC said the Minnesota lab had also found Salmonella in cultures from four other sealed Veggie Booty bags, but was still examining the isolates to see if they matched the outbreak strain.

The company said in a Jul 3 press release that preliminary independent tests suggested the vegetable seasoning is the likely source of the Salmonella, and that most of the components come from China, a country that has recently been implicated in several other product-contamination incidents. The company said the two recalled snacks are the only products that contain the seasoning.

When the outbreak was announced last week, authorities said it involved 52 cases in 17 states. The Jul 3 CDC update reported 57 cases in 18 states.

The FDA and CDC said the cases began in March. Almost all the illnesses were in children under age 10, with most of them in toddlers. Most of the patients had bloody diarrhea, and 10% were hospitalized, officials said. No deaths have been reported. Illness onset dates, known for 49 patients, ranged from Mar 4 to Jun 15.

Most people infected with Salmonella experience diarrhea, often with fever and abdominal cramps, within 12 to 72 hours after infection, the CDC said. Most people recover in 4 to 7 days without treatment, but elderly people, infants, and those with an impaired immune system may suffer severe illness.

See also:

Jul 3 CDC press release

Jun 29 CIDRAP News story "Snack implicated in 17-state Salmonella outbreak"

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