A multistate outbreak of Salmonella Poona infections linked to tainted cucumbers has worsened, claiming two lives and sickening more than 300 people, officials say. So far, 341 people in 30 states have been infected. Seventy have been hospitalized, and two deaths have been reported, one in Texas and the other in California.
Investigators determined the source of the infections was most likely Mexican cucumbers imported by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce (A&W). On September 4, A&W voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand from August 1 through September 3 due to concerns the products may have been contaminated with Salmonella.
“Our thoughts go out to the victims, their families and their loved ones,” A&W said in a statement. “We want to let those who are affected know we are fully cooperating with health officials to ensure we are doing everything possible to learn if we are responsible and how this could have happened.”
The company says it is currently conducting a thorough evaluation of its cucumber farming and packing operations to determine if they can find a cause. “We are looking at all control processes and completely scrubbing and cleaning the facility,” the company said.
The recalled cucumbers were produced in Baja California, Mexico and distributed in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. However, CDC says distribution to other states may have occurred. FDA says the products likely reached customers through retail, foodservice companies, wholesalers and brokers. A&W is currently working with health authorities to determine if, in fact, its product is the source of the Salmonella outbreak.
According to federal officials, 91 of the 134 people they interviewed who became sick reported eating cucumbers in the week leading up to their illnesses. Several state health and agriculture departments are collecting leftover cucumbers from retail locations and testing them for the presence of Salmonella. Health departments in Nevada, Montana and Arizona have isolated one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona from a cucumber collected from a retail location.