Tainted chicken salad sickens 65 in multistate Salmonella outbreak

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday said that a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to chicken salad sold by a grocery store chain in the Midwest has sickened 65 people in five states.

CDC's announcement came a day after the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc., based in Ackley, Iowa, recalled 20,630 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salad products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Typhimurium, based on investigation findings from Iowa health officials into several illnesses.

Outbreak strain in 2 product samples

The CDC said epidemiologic and lab evidence points to the company's chicken salad, sold at Fareway grocery stores, as the likely source of the multistate outbreak. Most of the sick patients are reported from Iowa (55), but Illinois (4), Nebraska (3), Minnesota (2), and Texas (1) also reported cases.

Iowa health officials have identified additional cases, based on diagnostic testing, but the CDC said it is not including them in the outbreak total until DNA fingerprint tests link the infections to the outbreak.

Illnesses began between Jan 8 and Feb 10. Patient ages range from 11 to 89 years, and two-thirds (44) are female. So far 28 people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

Early on, Iowa health officials detected the outbreak and linked it to chicken salad sold at Fareway stores. CDC investigators are using PulseNet, the national subtyping network, to identify other infections that may be related to the outbreak.

Iowa investigators collected chicken salad from two Fareway stores for lab testing, which identified the outbreak strain in both samples, the CDC said. The maker of the chicken salad stopped selling the product on Feb 9 after Iowa authorities contacted company officials about the illnesses, and Iowa issued a consumer advisory on Feb 13.

Whole-genome sequencing on 20 isolates showed no predicted antibiotic resistance in 19 samples, but one contained a gene for resistance to tetracycline, an antibiotic not commonly used to treat Salmonella illness.

Salad sold in 5 states

In its recall notice, the FSIS said Triple T's chicken salad items that are subject to the recall were produced between Jan 2 and Feb 8. They were distributed in 5-pound bags and labeled as packaged for Fareway Wholesale Company. The chicken salad was shipped to Fareway grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

FSIS said it and the company are concerned that some of the products may be frozen and are in consumers' freezers. It added that people who bought the chicken salad should not consume it and should throw away the products or return them to the store.

See also:

Feb 22 CDC outbreak announcement

Feb 21 FSIS press release

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