Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cucumbers

This Food & Environment article was written by Dr. Paul Priyesh Vijayakumar, Ph.D., Dr. Melissa Newman, Ph.D., and Dr. Gregg Rentfrow, Ph.D. and published by the University of Kentucky Animal and Food Sciences Department.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cucumbers

On September 4, 2015 Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) reported that cucumbers imported from Mexico and sold in 27 states in the USA including Kentucky were recalled due to Salmonella contamination (Salmonella Poona). According to the UDAF, 285 cases of Salmonella Poona were confirmed to be linked to cucumbers through test results, of which 30 of the cases were recorded in Utah. California department of public health has reported 1 death from among 51 cases reported.

Details of the Recall

Company issuing the recall Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce
Brand and Label Name of Cucumbers under Recall “Limited Edition”
Time Frame of Sale August 1, 2015 – September 1, 2015
What is the problem Cucumbers may be contaminated with Salmonella
Types of Cucumber Involved Types commonly called “Slicer” or “American” cucumbers
How to Identify these Cucumbers? Color – Dark green
Length – 7 to 10 inches
Package/Sale – In retail stores these cucumbers are sold in bulk display, no individual packaging or wrapping
Shipping Information – Contaminated cucumbers were shipped in black, green, yellow, or brown carton with the caption “Limited Edition Pole Grown Cucumbers” (see picture below).
Cucumbers were distributed to the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

salmonella in cucumbers

Salmonella

Salmonella is a harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness called salmonellosis. According to FDA reports this pathogen tops the list in domestically acquired foodborne illness resulting in hospitalization and death.

Occurrence of Salmonella

Salmonella is normally present in the intestinal tract of animals, particularly in poultry and swine, other sources of the organism include water, soil, insects, factory surfaces, kitchen surfaces, animal feces, raw meats, raw poultry, and raw seafoods.

How can someone get infected with Salmonella?

  • Consuming food and water contaminated with animal faeces.
    NOTE: (Though Salmonella is normally associated with foods of animal origin (beef, poultry, milk, fish or eggs), vegetables, fruits, and processed food could also become contaminated with Salmonella.)
  • Poor hygiene practices, for example, not washing hands

Symptoms of Salmonella infection or Salmonellosis:

  • A person infected with Salmonella normally has fever
  • Abdominal cramps and sudden onset of diarrhea (which may be bloody) will occur with 12-72 hours after contamination of contaminated food.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and headache could occur, but are less frequent

Who is At Risk?

Though any person is susceptible to Salmonella infection, children are at the highest risk followed by people with weak immune system such as the elderly, pregnant women, neonates, and adults with weak immune system (referred to as immunocompromised) are at a higher risk and are highly likely to have severe infection.

Some Relevant Food Safety Tips:

  • Avoid eating recalled cucumbers.
  • Contact your health care provider if you have eaten or come in contact with the recalled cucumbers.
  • Thoroughly wash the surface areas of fruits and vegetables that are consumed raw.
  • By normal practice people tend to cut away damaged parts on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating, but at times like this it is better to discard damaged or bruised fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • To avoid cross contamination fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw must be kept separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw meat or poultry.
  • All utensils and your work surfaces in the kitchen should be washed with soap and water periodically and especially after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
  • Thoroughly wash, scrub, and rinse non-porous or plastic cutting boards with dish washing liquid or using your dish washer.

References:

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