CDC reports foodborne illnesses tied to salad, ground beef

Caesar salad with beef pasta
Caesar salad with beef pasta

agreentravel / iStock

Editor's note: This article was updated on Nov 21, 2019, with new information from Ready Pac Foods to correct misinormation about the product that tested positive.

Yesterday and today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new Escherichia coli outbreak linked to pre-packaged chicken Caesar salads, and a new case in an ongoing Salmonella outbreak tied to tainted ground beef.

Kidney failure in salad outbreak

Today the CDC said 17 people in eight states have been sickened in an outbreak of Shiga toxin–producing E coli O157:H7 infections. Seven people have been hospitalized, including two patients who have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Officials from the Maryland Department of Health identified E coli O157 in an unopened package of Ready Pac Foods Bistro Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics Caesar Salad 2/6.25 ounce collected from a sick person's home in that state, the CDC said. Ready Pac is based in Irwindale, California. According to a statement from Bonduelle Fresh Americas, home of Ready Pac Foods, the salad in question was sold only at Sam's Club retailers.

"Ill people in Maryland reported eating Ready Pac Foods Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad," the CDC said. "Further laboratory testing is currently underway for this sample to determine if it is closely related genetically to the E. coli found in people in this outbreak." At this time, case-patients in other states have not reported eating the prepared chicken salad.

The CDC also said the Food and Drug Administration is tracing back the supply of the romaine lettuce used in the salad and has identified possible farms in Salinas, California. Romaine from both Arizona and California has been implicated in E coli outbreaks in recent years.

"Preliminary information indicates that romaine lettuce used in the product that tested positive was harvested in mid-October and is no longer within current expiration dates," the CDC said. The agency is advising consumers not to eat or sell any of the salads with a "best by" date of Oct 31.

Illness-onset dates range from Sep 24 to Nov 8. Wisconsin has the most cases (6), followed by Idaho (3), 2 each in California and Maryland, and 1 in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Washington state.

One more case in ground beef outbreak

Yesterday the CDC said another person has been sickened in a multistate Salmonella outbreak linked to ground beef that involves the Dublin subtype, known to cause severe infections.

So far in this outbreak there have been 11 cases in seven states. Eight people have been hospitalized, including one death. The CDC first reported the outbreak on Nov 1.

Last week, Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, California, recalled 34,222 pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with Salmonella. Recalled beef was produced on Jul 23, 2019, and shipped to retail locations in California, the CDC said.

"At this time, a single supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has not been identified that can account for all the illnesses in this outbreak," the CDC said. "Do not eat recalled ground beef. Check your home for it, including your freezer. Return it to the store or throw it away."

The CDC said earlier this month this was a severe outbreak, with more hospitalizations than normal. The 11 cases are in Colorado (3 cases), California (2), Kansas (2), Iowa (1), Oklahoma (1), Texas (1), and Washington (1).

Illness-onset dates range from Aug 8 to Sep 22. Patient ages range from 39 to 74 years old. Eight of the patients are men.

See also:

Nov 20 CDC E coli report

Nov 19 CDC Salmonella update

Nov 20 Bonduelle Fresh America press release

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