UPDATED — The CDC posted an alert at 11:30 a.m. EDT July 18 warning consumers to not eat recalled Hy-Vee salad associated with a Salmonella outbreak. The agency reports 21 people across five states are confirmed infected with the outbreak strain. Five people have been hospitalized. Also, the FDA posted an alert on social media at 9:50 p.m. EDT on July 17. The Hy-Vee recall is also posted on the FDA website.  

Content updated through out — Federal officials report 21 people have been confirmed infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella that is associated with pasta salad from Hy-Vee grocery stores. More than 75 percent of those interviewed by public health officials so far report eating ready-to-eat Hy-Vee brand “Spring Pasta Salad” before they became ill.

There is concern that consumers may still have the recalled salad in their homes because some of the containers have expiration dates as far away as Aug. 3.

Hy-vee Inc. posted a recall notice on its website Monday, July 16, saying it had been informed of illnesses in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. Missouri has also reported a case, according to a notice July 18 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ill people range in age from 5 years to 89, with a median age of 50. Sixty-two percent are female. Out of 11 people with information available, 5 (45%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported,” according to the CDC alert.

Illnesses that occurred after July 1 might not yet be reported to the CDC because of the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks for Salmonella infections.

Epidemiologic evidence indicates that Spring Pasta Salad purchased at Hy-Vee grocery stores is a likely source of the outbreak, the CDC reported. The regional grocer says it acted quickly to mitigate the situation.

“The potential for contamination was brought to Hy-Vee’s attention (July 16) when approximately 20 illnesses in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa were potentially linked back to customers consuming the salad,” according to the recall notice on Hy-Vee’s website.

“The pasta salad was distributed to all of Hy-Vee’s 244 grocery stores across its eight-state region of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

The recalled “Spring Pasta Salad” is packaged in plastic containers with plastic lids. The expiration date range is between June 22 and Aug. 3. The expiration date can be found on the side of the container.

The recall includes 1-pound and 3-pound containers. The recalled salad was produced between June 1 and July 13. It was sold from the deli service cases in Hy-Vee grocery stores. The salad includes shell pasta, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green pepper, onion, and mayonnaise, according to the CDC.

Officials with Hy-Vee, which is headquartered in West Des Moines, urged customers who purchased the salad to dispose of it or return it to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund. The FDA and CDC posted similar advice.

The federal agencies say consumers should not eat any of the recalled Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad. If already purchased, consumers are urged to throw it away or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

“If you purchased pasta salad from a Hy-Vee deli counter and you are unsure of the type of pasta salad, you should discard it or return it to the store for a refund,” according to the FDA notice.

“The FDA continues to collect information to determine any additional sources. … Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that they wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.”

Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner, and the agency at large is facing ongoing pressure from members of Congress and consumer advocacy groups to post, in all instances, specific retail locations where recalled foods have been sold. The agency’s alert did not specifically indicate if it will post such lists regarding this recall.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, the FDA will update this page as more information becomes available, such as product information, epidemiological results, and recalls,” according to FDA’s outbreak report.

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has eaten the Hy-Vee pasta salad and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific laboratory tests are necessary to diagnose Salmonella infections.

Symptoms of salmonellosis can include fever, diarrhea that can be bloody, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In otherwise healthy adults the bacterial infection usually lasts a few days and does not require hospitalization.

However, in high risk people Salmonella bacteria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. In extreme cases infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and cause arterial infections such as infected aneurysms, as well as endocarditis and arthritis. 

High risk groups include young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, including cancer and transplant patients.  

The CDC has additional advice for consumers.

“Even if some of it (the pasta salad) was eaten and no one got sick, do not eat it,” the CDC says.

“If you stored recalled pasta salad in another container, throw the pasta salad away. Thoroughly wash the container with warm, soapy water before using it again, to remove harmful germs that could contaminate other food.”

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