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Resistant Salmonella Linked to King Soopers Beef Recall

Jul 28, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Salmonella strain at the root of the recent King Soopers, Inc. beef recall is not only resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics, but the Salmonella involved is not always killed off by cooking, according to The Denver Channel, citing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Because this particular strain of Salmonella, Salmonella Typhimurium DT104, is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, contamination with the strain can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

Late last week we wrote that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released information on King Soopers, Inc. announcement of its recall. The recall was for approximately 466,236 pounds of ground beef products that were likely linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium DT104. The recall is a Class I, which means it presents a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

The beef distributed by King Soopers was sent to stores in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, said the Denver Channel, which noted that 14 people in Colorado fell ill after eating the recalled meat.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, e.g., infected aneurysms, endocarditis, and arthritis.

Epidemiological investigations and a case control study conducted by CDPHE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that there is an association between the fresh ground beef products and the14 illnesses reported in Colorado. The illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their less common pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern found in PulseNet, a national network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by the CDC.

While the FSIS said it has no reason to believe that the recalled beef products are still available for sale in commerce, consumers may have purchased these recalled, fresh ground beef products between May 23 and June 23, 2009 and stored them in the freezer. Consumers are advised to look for and discard or destroy the recalled products.

According to PubMed (a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health), Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 strains are commonly resistant to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides, and tetracycline.

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