Untreated Water Likely Source of Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Cucumbers

By on July 9, 2024

U.S. health officials have determined that untreated water used by a Florida cucumber grower is one likely source of salmonella poisoning that sickened nearly 450 people this spring.

Still, that grower didn’t supply all the cucumbers that were linked to salmonella contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted in a recent health update.

During their probe, FDA investigators discovered that salmonella found in untreated canal water used by Bedner Growers Inc. matched a strain of the bacteria that caused some of the illnesses reported in 31 states and Washington, D.C. 

Bedner Growers supplies Fresh Start Produce Sales, of Delray Beach, Fla., which recalled crates of the cucumbers in late May after the first illnesses were reported. Bedner Growers also supplied cucumbers to multiple places where ill people reported buying or eating the produce, FDA added.

The canal water was only used for subsoil watering, Bedner Growers’ owner Steve Bedner told the Associated Press. The water was not applied to edible parts of the plants. He added that this complies with federal rules and is “a common industry practice.”

U.S. health investigators first said two outbreaks of salmonella were possibly tied to cucumbers, but they later combined them into one because of several similarities. Nearly 70% of sick people interviewed reported eating cucumbers before they fell ill, the FDA said, and the investigation is continuing.

Bedner Growers’ cucumber growing and harvesting season is over, so there’s likely no ongoing risk to the public, the FDA noted.

The May recall was issued after a cucumber sample tested by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture was found to be positive for salmonella.

Any of these cucumbers should be discarded or returned to the store, the company said. Consumers with additional questions can call the company at 888-364-2993 anytime from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps that can start within hours or days of consuming contaminated food. Most people recover with treatment, but severe symptoms and ones that don’t improve or signs of dehydration should prompt a visit to the doctor, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to become severely ill.

“In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections [i.e., infected aneurysms], endocarditis and arthritis,” the recall notice said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on salmonella.

SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, June 2, 2024

Source: HealthDay

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