Another health alert added to long list of foods possibly contaminated with salmonella, cyclospora

How Wisconsin is being affected
Another health alert added to long list of foods possibly contaminated with salmonella, cyclospora

Beef, pork and poultry salads and wraps from Kroger, Trader Joe’s and Walgreens are the latest foods being linked to a possible parasite contamination. The United States Department of Agriculture sent a warning to consumers on Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already investigating 13 outbreaks this year, including salmonella infections from raw turkey, Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad sold in Wisconsin, Honey Smacks cereal and pre-cut melon.

The bacteria causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea 24-72 hours after eating a contaminated food.

Two of the CDC investigations surround illnesses from a parasite called cyclospora. Salads from fast-food chains sickened three to five Wisconsinites and Del Monte vegetable trays sold at Kwik Trip affected at least 172 people in Wisconsin, with eight of them being in Dane County.

“When there are these national outbreaks or recalls, we might have one or two cases,” said Amanda Kita-Yarbo, a communicable disease epidemiologist with Public Health Madison and Dane County. “This one was so regional, Kwik Trip is a really regional chain, so yes, eight cases was a lot for us.”

Kita-Yarbo said one person in Dane County became sick from salmonella bacteria in Honey Smacks cereal. She said this bacteria is more common than cyclospora, which we are seeing more of during summer months.

The latest warning is for wraps and salads that are possibly contaminated with the same parasite cyclospora.

Illness from cyclospora does not go away as quickly as illness from salmonella does, and it takes more time for a person to feel sick.

“You can have symptoms starting a week later and then you would have more liquid stool. That’s when you would worry because it would be persistent and you would want to come into the doctor,” said Dr. Diana Flint with SSM Health Family Medicine.

This might seem like an increase in food alerts and outbreaks, but experts believe we are seeing more warnings as lab testing becomes more advanced.

“The vast majority of food is perfectly safe to eat,” said Kita-Yarbro. “But nothing is risk-free unfortunately.”

The new alert comes just a week after Associated Milk Producers Inc. recalled some of its dry whey powder produced in Blair, Wisconsin, for a possible salmonella contamination. The ingredient is used in a variety of flavors of Goldfish and Ritz crackers, causing them to be pulled from shelves across the country.

“All dry whey powder products shipped to our manufacturer and broker customers tested negative for salmonella,” said Sarah Schmidt, vice president of public affairs at AMPI. “However, because additional product tested positive for salmonella under AMPI’s routine test and hold procedures, the co-op decided to recall the product as a precautionary measure.”

Flint said people shouldn’t necessarily be worried, but they should be paying attention to all the foods being recalled to make sure they don’t consume them.

She also recommended preparing food at home, washing hands before and after eating and cooking raw meat separately.