Food

Salmonella has now sickened 320 in the East, but authorities can't say if there's a common source

Cucumbers have been connected to two of the three contaminations. Still, the outbreaks could be separate, according to health officials.
cucumbers
Cucumbers may or may not be the culprit. | Photo: Shutterstock

Despite assurances last week that cucumbers possibly contaminated with salmonella had never been shipped out of warehouses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that 162 individuals in 25 states have been sickened by the bacteria, with initial evidence pointing to the salad staple as the source.

In addition, the CDC and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration are still looking for the source of the salmonella bacteria that sickened another 158 consumers in 23 states.

The food-safety authorities said they’re investigating whether the two salmonella outbreaks and the recall of cucumbers by their wholesaler last Friday are related. The agencies noted similarities that suggest a connection. The two waves of salmonella infections came in eastern states, the region where the recalled cukes from Fresh Start Produce Sales were set to be distributed to restaurants and supermarkets. The demographics of the victims were also similar, according to the authorities, though they didn’t explain why that suggests a single source.

In announcing a recall of cucumbers last week, Fresh Start said the produce had been shipped to wholesalers and distributors, including those serving the foodservice industry. But it indicated that the cucumbers were unlikely to have yet reached restaurants and stores. The CDC and FDA have not tied any infections to those products.

The CDC noted that the produce from Fresh Start could have been shipped to other suppliers who then put the cucumbers into the market via their supply pipelines.

The suspicions center on whole cucumbers measuring five to nine inches in length and up to two inches in diameter. Smaller so-called mini cucumbers and English versions are not part of the focus.

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