Spices suspected in 4-state Salmonella outbreak

Mar 30, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Public health officials in four states are investigating a Salmonella outbreak associated with spices made by a California company that has so far sickened 42 people, 33 of them in California.

Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), said in a Mar 28 press release that consumers should avoid eating spices produces by Union International Food Company, though only white and black pepper products have been linked to the illnesses.

The company recalled its pepper and other spice products, which were primarily sold to distributors and restaurants in California and Oregon under the Lian How brand name. The products, which include the wording "Packed by Union International Foods" or "Union National Foods," were packed in various-sized containers, from 2.2-lb foil bags to 15-lb cardboard boxes with plastic liners.

Besides pepper, other seasonings subject to the recall include cayenne pepper, paprika, chopped onion, onion powder, garlic, curry powder, mustard powder, and wasabi powder.

William Keene, senior epidemiologist in the Public Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Services, told CIDRAP News that the outbreak strain is Salmonella enterica serotype Rissen, which has so far sickened four Oregon residents. He said the strain is also linked to cases in Washington and Nevada.

California officials said no deaths have been attributed to the outbreak and the latest known illness onset is Mar 13. Cases were reported from 15 counties in the central and northern part of the state.

Salmonellosis is marked by diarrhea, fever, and cramps that start between 12 and 72 hours after infection, with symptoms that last from 4 to 7 days, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most people recover without treatment, but severe cases can occur in infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immunity.


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