Salmonella in Dole Vegetable Salad

New salmonella scare: Dole recalls bagged salad for salmonella risk. It’s been less than 48 hours since Americans were alarmed by a warning from health authorities that about 100 people from 20 states had been stricken with salmonella infections from eating a yellowfin tuna product.

As if that wasn’t enough, now the salmonella scare is spreading, as Dole Food Co. (DOLE) — the world’s largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables — announced late Saturday (April 14) that its fresh vegetables division is recalling 756 cases of bagged salad for possible salmonella risk.

Dole says it is voluntarily recalling some of its Seven Lettuces salads due to possible salmonella contamination.

No illnesses have been reported in the 15 states where the 765 cases of salad had been distributed, but Dole says in a statement that it was taking this step as a precaution — after a random sample in New York state tested positive for the bacteria.

Diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours of eating a contaminated food product are symptoms of a salmonella infection. The nasty infection lasts from four to seven days, but mostly clears on its own in healthy people –without the need for antibiotics. But for infants, older people, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems — like those taking immunosuppressant drugs or those with HIV/AIDS — the bacterial infection can be severe or even life threatening.

No other Dole salads are included in the recall, the United States Food and Drug Administration says in an advisory on its website.

Which Dole products are being recalled?
Dole advises consumers that only the following products are being recalled:
• bags of Seven Lettuces salad
• stamped with a use-by date of April 11, 2012
• UPC code 71430 01057
• product codes 0577N089112A and 0577N089112B

The product code and use-by date are found in the upper right-hand corner of the package, while the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode, Dole says.

Consumers should throw out any remaining product with these Product Codes, the company advises.

The FDA also recommends that, “retailers should check their inventories and store shelves to confirm that none of the product is mistakenly present or available for purchase by consumers or in warehouse inventories.”

Retailers and consumers with questions may call the Dole Food Company Consumer Response Center at (800) 356-3111, which is open 8:00 am to 3:00 pm (PDT) Monday to Friday, the FDA also says.

The salads were distributed in Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Dole says it’s now contacting retailers to make sure the bags in question are not available for sale. The company is also coordinating with regulatory officials.

Salmonella in spicy tuna
On April 13, the FDA also warned American consumers over an ongoing multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections from eating a yellowfin tuna product used to make the Japanese dishes sushi and sashimi sold at restaurants and grocery stores across the U.S.

The manufacturer, California-based Moon Marine USA Corp., has since voluntarily recalled “Nakaochi Scrape” — the frozen raw yellowfin tuna product linked to the ongoing multistate outbreak. No deaths have been reported, but more than 100 have fallen ill.

Salmonella: a sneaky germ
“Salmonella is a sneaky germ,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a page on its website. “Salmonella can contaminate more than poultry and eggs. It sneaks its way into many foods — ground beef, pork, tomatoes, sprouts — even peanut butter, the CDC explains.

The most common cause of food poisoning in the U.S., Salmonella infections have not declined at all in the past 15 years — even when many other foodborne illnesses have declined, following improved sanitation and food processing methods.

As the weather gets warmer in late spring, the salmonella bacteria has more opportunity to contaminate food. “Salmonella illness is more common in the summer,” the CDC warns.

As spring is a pleasant time for picnics and other outdoor activities, the CDC advises people to follow these guidelines to keep their food salmonella-free:
• Always keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
• Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours — reduce this time to 1 hour on a hot day (90°F or higher).
• Refrigerate leftovers promptly when you’re finished eating.
• If you’re still stuck outdoors and away from a refrigerator, be sure to put perishable items in a cooler or insulated bag.

Where ready-to-eat pre-packaged salads are concerned, it wouldn’t harm to wash them, even if the package says “ready to eat.”

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