Any food can become contaminated with pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella. In recent years, such foods as almonds, pistachios, peanuts, cereal, and snack foods have been identified as the source of Salmonella outbreaks. Although public health investigators are not always able to determine the means by which these food products become contaminated with Salmonella, it is important to note that cross-contamination and unsanitary conditions in food processing plants are potential factors.
In the autumn of 2012, dozens of people became ill with Salmonella infections after eating Trader Joe’s peanut butter. The peanut butter and other nut products that caused the Salmonella outbreak were produced by New Mexico-based Sunland, Inc. The Trader Joe’s and Sunland peanut butterSalmonella outbreak follows in the footsteps of earlier peanut and peanut butter-linked Salmonella outbreaks. In 2009, the FDA and CDC announced that at least 714 people in 46 states and Canada had become ill with Salmonella Typhimurium infections after eating contaminated peanut butter and peanut products produced by Peanut Corporation of America between September of 2008 and March of 2009. Before that, ConAgra Peter Pan and Walmart Great Valuepeanut butter were the source of a Salmonella outbreak that sickened over 600 people in 41 states. That peanut butter-related outbreak lasted from August 2006 to May 2007. See Sunland and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Salmonella Lawsuits, Peanut Corporation of America peanut Salmonella outbreak lawsuits & litigation and ConAgra Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuits.
Earlier in 2012, a widespread outbreak of Salmonella paratyphi B infections was traced to the consumption of contaminated tempeh made by Smiling Hara Tempeh of Asheville, North Carolina. At least 88 people in 4 states became ill during the Salmonella outbreak, which was ultimately traced to starter culture Smiling Hara Tempeh had purchased from a business called Tempeh Online, which quickly shut down its Websites after the Salmonella outbreak announcement.See Smiling Hara Tempeh Salmonella Outbreak Litigation
Turkish pine nuts imported by Sunrise Commodities were identified as the source of a Salmonella outbreak among Wegman’s Food Markets customers in 2011. The pine nuts were sold in bulk bins at Wegman’s stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland. Over 5,000 pounds of Turkish pine nuts were ultimately recalled by Sunrise Commodities. See Sunrise Commodities Turkish Pine Nuts Salmonella Lawsuits
In January 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that at least 187 people in 39 states had become ill with Salmonella Montevideo infections. Testing by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and state health departments implicated pepper-coated salame (salami) produced by Daniele International, Inc. as the source of the outbreak, and shortly after the outbreak announcement Daniele International recalled 1,240,000 pounds of ready-to-eat varieties of Italian sausage products for potential Salmonella contamination. The firm later expanded its recall to include an additional 17,000 pounds of salami products. Since the outbreak was announced, Salmonella has been isolated from Daniele International products and from pepper supplied to Daniele by two pepper suppliers, Mincing Overseas Spice and Wholesome Spice. Both pepper suppliers import their pepper from overseas. The investigation into the outbreak is ongoing. See Daniele International Salame Salmonella Outbreak.
The CDC announced that it had joined with public health officials across the United States to investigate a Salmonella Agona outbreak in 2008. The outbreak was traced to Malt-O-Meal unsweetened Puffed Rice Cereals and unsweetened Puffed Wheat Cereals. At least 28 individuals with Salmonella Agona infections associated with the consumption of Malt-O-Meal cereals were identified in 15 states. Eight people were hospitalized with Salmonella Agona infection. During the outbreak investigation, the Delaware and New York State Public Health Laboratories isolated Salmonella Agona with matching PFGE patterns from two bags of Puffed Rice cereal produced by the same company. See Malt-O-Meal Salmonella Lawsuits and Litigation.
In 2007, 272 people in 35 states became ill with Salmonella infection after consuming ConAgra’s Banquet and store-brand pot pies; 65 were hospitalized. Pot pies from the homes of three individuals who tested positive for Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- also tested positive for the strain of Salmonella. ConAgra initiated a nationwide recall of Banquet and store-brand pot pies, and closed its Missouri plant where pot pies were made. Recalled ConAgra pot pies included Banquet brand frozen pot pies, and generic store brand pot pies for Hill Country Fare, Food Lion, Great Value, Kirkwood, Kroger, Meijer, and Western Family. ConAgra resumed production of Banquet and store brand pot pies on November 1, 2007 after implementing more stringent testing procedures for ingredients in ready-to-cook products, and putting modified cooking instructions on the box. See ConAgra Pot Pie Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuits and Litigation.
Also in 2007, Veggie Booty, a puffed rice and corn snack food coated with vegetable spices, was determined to be the source of a Salmonella outbreak. Robert’s American Gourmet, the manufacturer of Veggie Booty, recalled all Veggie Booty and Super Veggie Tings Crunch Corn Sticks. Several serotypes of Salmonella were later isolated from 13 bags of Veggie Booty. Those Salmonella serotypes included: Wandsworth, Kentucky, Typhimurium, Haifa, and Saintpaul. Enterobacter sakazakii was also isolated from one bag of Veggie Booty. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation led to the determination that a spice utilized in making Veggie Booty was the contamination source. Samples of parsley powder, an ingredient used in the production of Veggie Booty, tested positive for Salmonella Wandsworth and Salmonella Mbandaka. Before the outbreak was over, 70 cases of Salmonella Wandsworth were identified in 23 states and 14 Salmonella Typhimurium cases were identified in six states. All were associated with the consumption of Veggie Booty. See Veggie Booty Salmonella Lawsuits and Litigation.