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Salmonella Poona outbreak ends without a ‘smoking’ cucumber

The fields where the cucumbers were grown were likely in Baja, Mexico, but how they became contaminated with Salmonella Poona remains unknown. And there is no report of any U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigator holding up a “smoking” cucumber or being on Mexican soil.

Nevertheless, last year’s multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to cucumbers from Mexico was declared over on March 18. Since the last update on Jan. 26, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said an additional 19 people were added to the outbreak from eight states.

cucumbers_406x250The CDC final report says 907 people were infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella in 40 states. Among these, at least 204 hospitalizations and 6 deaths were associated with the outbreak.

The Salmonella Poona outbreak first came to light last Sept. 4 with CDC’s initial announcement. Through epidemiological, laboratory and traceback investigations, state and federal investigators identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as the likely source of the outbreak infections.

Two recalls by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce followed in September for cucumbers over possible Salmonella contamination. CDC says no other food was associated with the outbreak, but the source of the contamination for the cucumbers distributed by Andrews & Williamson has not been identified.

The CDC final report is silent on whether any U.S. government officials did any on the ground investigations in Mexico. CDC credits public health officials from “many states and the U.S., Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for conducting the months-long investigation.

The peak of the Salmonella Poona illnesses occurred last September-October.

The FDA traceback investigation did determined that the firm Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. located in Baja, Mexico was the primary source of cucumbers shipped to Andrew & Williamson.  It issued two import alerts on further entry of fresh produce from Rancho Don into the U.S.

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