Public health officials continue to investigate multiple foodborne illness outbreaks

FOOD SAFETY NEWS – The FDA is working on tracing the source of a Salmonella Entertidis outbreak linked to cookie dough from Papa Murphy’s pizza restaurants. It has not been reported if the cookie dough is made at individual restaurants or bought from a third-party supplier.

The announcement of the outbreak on May 23 revealed that at least 18 people across six states have been infected. The Food and Drug Administration is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health departments, on the outbreak investigation.

Sample collection and analysis has been initiated by the FDA, but the agency has not reported what Papa Murphy’s locations are involved. The national chain sells raw pizzas and cookie dough for home baking.

The CDC reports that sick people live in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Missouri and Utah. Two people have required hospitalization but no deaths have been reported.

In other outbreak news, the FDA continues to investigate an outbreak of 19 illnesses caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite. A specific food source has not yet been identified. The first outbreak announcement from the FDA was posted on May 24.

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The FDA has begun traceback to find the source of the parasite but has not reported what food or foods are being traced. Also, the agency has not released any information about where the patients live.

On May 18 the Georgia health department announced it was investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora infections, but the agency did not report how many patients were involved.

Cyclosporiasis is often associated with eating fresh produce that was grown outside the United States, according to Georgia officials. However, in recent years there have been confirmed cases in people who have eaten leafy greens or cilantro grown in the United States.

In another outbreak investigation, the FDA and CDC are assisting public health officials in Montana after 50 people became ill after eating at Dave’s Sushi restaurant. Two people have died. Imported morel mushrooms served at the restaurant are the suspected source of the illnesses. The restaurant closed for a time, but has since reopened.

State and federal officials continue to warn about the dangers of morel and other wild harvested mushrooms.

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“Consumers should eat morel and other wild-type mushrooms at their own risk. Properly cooking morel mushrooms can reduce risk of illness, however there is no guarantee of safety even if cooking steps are taken prior to consumption,” according to the FDA

Other ongoing outbreak investigations

The patient count in a hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen organic strawberries continues to increase.

There are now nine confirmed patients in the outbreak, which has been ongoing since at least Nov. 24, 2022, with the most recent patient confirmed on April 12, according to the CDC. It can take up to 50 days after exposure for symptoms to develop.

There is concern that consumers may still have the strawberries in their home freezers because of their long shelf life.

Three of the patients have required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported. All of the patients reported eating frozen organic strawberries before becoming sick.

Two companies have issued recalls in relation to the outbreak, California Splendor and Scenic Fruit. Recalled brands include:

  • Simply Nature, Organic Strawberries, Best By 06/14/2024
  • Vital Choice, Organic Strawberries, BEST BY 05/20/2024
  • Kirkland Signature, Organic Strawberries, Best If Used By 10/08/2024
  • Made With, Organic Strawberries, Best Before 11/20/2024
  • PCC Community Markets, Organic Strawberries, Best By 29/10/2024
  • Trader Joe’s, Organic Tropical Fruit Blend with the following Best By dates: 04/25/24; 05/12/24; 05/23/24; 05/30/24; 06/07/24

In other outbreak news, The FDA continues its investigation into an outbreak of infections caused by Salmonella Infantis that has been linked to flour.

General Mills has recalled bleached and unbleached Gold Medal flour sold in 2-, 5- and 10-pound bags with “Better if Used by” dates of March 27, 2024, and March 28, 2024. Recalled product codes can be found in the firm’s press release.

As of the most recent update, on March 30, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak has sickened at least 13 people across 12 states. Three of the patients have required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from Dec. 6, 2022, to Feb. 13, 2023, but there are likely more sick people who have not yet been confirmed because of the time it takes for testing and reporting, and because of the long shelf life of the flour.

The sick people live from coast to coast in Oregon, California, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia and New York. Whole genome sequencing from lab samples from the patients shows a common cause for their infections.

The CDC continues to remind people to exercise caution when cooking with flour. Raw dough and batter should not be eaten and children should not be allowed to play with raw flour. Utensils used when cooking with raw flour and surfaces that come into contact with it should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Flour is a raw agricultural product and can be easily contaminated when grain is processed.

An outbreak of Listeria infections spanning 15 states remains under investigation with no source identified as yet. The CDC reports that all of the patients have been confirmed sick with the outbreak strain of the pathogen. Seventeen of 18 patients have required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

The FDA reports that it has begun traceback efforts as well as onsite inspection and sample collection, but it has not reported what locations are being inspected or what foods are being sampled.

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