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Salmonella Health Alert Issued for Pork Crackling Products

May 21, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for about 1,100 pounds of fully cooked pork crackling products produced at Miami, Florida’s Sofia Chicharones.  The pork crackling products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The products are distributed in one- and five-pound bags labeled “Fully Cooked Pork Cracklings with Attached Skin” and bear a label with the establishment number “EST. 21055” inside the USDA mark of inspection as well as a “Packed Date” of “051208-1.”  The fully cooked pork crackling products were sold in the Sofia Chicharones retail store in Miami on May 12, 2008.  The FSIS confirm these products are no longer available for sale at Sofia Chicharones and urges consumers to look for and discard or destroy these fully cooked pork crackling products.  The product tested positive for Salmonella during routine FSIS microbiological sampling.

Anyone with signs or symptoms of food-borne illness should consult a medical professional.  Consumers with questions should contact company representative Sofia Barns at (305) 324-1816.  Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. T he toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.  Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported annually.  Salmonella can occur when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not wash their hands or do not sanitize implements involved in meat storage.  Salmonella is a common organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.  Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and cramping within 12 to 72 hours of infection.  Laboratory testing is required to determine the presence of Salmonella; additional testing can determine the specific type and which antibiotics are needed.  Generally, salmonellosis lasts a week and most recover without treatment; however, in some, hospitalization is required because the infection may have spread from the intestines to the blood stream and other body sites.

Without treatment—antibiotics—severe cases of Salmonella can result in death; however, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.  A small number of persons infected with Salmonella will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination—a condition called Reiter's syndrome—which can last for months or years and can lead to chronic arthritis; antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether or not the person later develops arthritis.

Last week, about 64 patrons of the Casa Fiesta in Norwalk fell ill after eating there in late April; 36 cases were confirmed as a result of Salmonella contamination.  One man is suing for the hospital bills and hardships he claims he suffered from eating Salmonella-tainted food at Casa Fiesta.


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