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February 27, 2024

Salmonella Cases Double as Outbreak Linked to Charcuterie Spreads

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Jan 19, 2024

A salmonella outbreak tied to various packaged charcuterie meats has now sickened at least 47 people across 17 states, according to an update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of reported cases has nearly doubled since the initial public health alert was issued last week.

Outbreak Origins and Timeline

The origins of the outbreak trace back to mid-December 2023, when a cluster of salmonella infections with a rare genetic fingerprint emerged. The CDC, state health officials, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) launched an investigation to uncover the source.

Initial evidence pointed to pre-packaged charcuterie meats sold at club store chains like Costco and Sam’s Club. Last week, Busseto Foods Inc. issued a recall for around 33,000 pounds worth of these products over concerns they were contaminated with salmonella. The CDC simultaneously put out a public health alert warning consumers of the outbreak.

Since then, the case count has jumped from 24 to 47 sick across Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. At least 12 people have required hospitalization. Investigators believe more illnesses tied to this outbreak may still emerge in the coming weeks due to the lag in reporting and confirming salmonella cases.

Expanded Recall and Investigation

With the outbreak growing, the recall has also expanded. As of January 18th, Busseto Foods has recalled all salami, prosciutto, coppa, and pancetta products manufactured at its New York and Las Vegas facilities from December 23rd through January 17th. This adds up to around 206,749 pounds of ready-to-eat charcuterie items sold nationwide.

The initial recall only covered products sold directly to retailers, but the expansion includes meat distributed to distributors for use in salads, charcuterie boards, sandwiches, and gift baskets. A dozen branded products are affected, including brands like Trader Joe’s, Fratelli Beretta, Columbus Craft Meats, Bacchus, and others.

CDC officials have determined that contaminated charcuterie items are the likely outbreak source based on early investigative findings. Of 17 people interviewed so far, 14 (88%) report eating Italian-style meats or antipasto platters before falling ill.

Salmonella specimens from both patients and food samples are still being analyzed to definitively link the bacteria back to a contamination source at the Busseto facilities. Environmental and product testing is also ongoing.

Symptoms and Risks

Common salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 6 hours to 6 days after exposure. Most recover without antibiotics after 4 to 7 days, but some severe infections require hospital care.

Children under 5, adults 65 and older, and people with compromised immune systems have an elevated risk for serious complications. Salmonella infections can sometimes lead to arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.

Retailer Recall Notices and Advice

Retailers like Sam’s Club, Costco, and Trader Joe’s have all issued recall notices to customers alerting them to discarded charcuterie products linked to this outbreak. Safety officials advise consumers not eat any recalled meats matching production dates and codes covered under Busseto’s expansions.

In general, proper handling and cooking of raw meats and poultry can prevent salmonella illnesses. The CDC recommends washing hands, surfaces, and utensils after touching raw meat, keeping foods separated, cooking to safe temperatures, and refrigerating items within 2 hours.

With prepackaged ready-to-eat charcuterie items, however, cooking isn’t an option. This limits consumer control if manufacturers fail safety procedures. Experts stress the importance of recalls and notices to get contaminated goods off store shelves and out of home pantries.

Ongoing Investigations and Preventative Actions

Alongside CDC and state health departments, USDA-FSIS continues to investigate Busseto Foods operations and distribution records to understand what led to the contamination. Salmonella is commonly found in animal digestive tracts and can be introduced via infected livestock.

Beef, pork, and poultry all carry salmonella risks if safety protocols fail, as seen in this charcuterie outbreak. FSIS may issue new regulatory guidance or requirements for facilities making these ready-to-eat meat products if gaps are found. Busseto may also face penalties if serious violations occurred.

In the meantime, consumers should remain vigilant of retailer alerts and CDC warnings should the outbreak spread or expand further. Discarding recalled products and taking food safety precautions remains key to preventing additional illnesses.

Salmonella Charcuterie Outbreak Impacts and Summary

While still evolving, this multistate outbreak serves as another example of how salmonella slipups in commercial food production can lead to widespread illnesses. Over 200,000 pounds of contaminated charcuterie made it into consumer hands before being detected and recalled.

The 47 salmonella cases and 12 hospitalizations tied to these products to date show the potential downside of such incidents. Busseto faces serious scrutiny as the likely source of infections that span over a dozen states. Even with the recalls and warnings now in effect, the scope of impacted products distributed makes more illnesses possible.

Investigators are working urgently to uncover where safety procedures failed and how to improve them moving forward. Until causes are confirmed and addressed, however, charcuterie safety risks may linger for both manufacturers and consumers. This outbreak highlights the delicacy and risks behind ready-to-eat meats even from well-known brands.

Stay tuned for more details as health officials continue probing this still emerging outbreak story.

Salmonella Infections Over Time

Date Reported Cases States with Cases Hospitalizations Recall Status
December 15, 2023 3 1 0 No recall yet
January 13, 2024 24 7 6 Initial recall issued
January 18, 2024 47 17 12 Recall expanded
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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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