FDA Says Frozen Reptile Food Poses Salmonella Risk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning U.S. and international customers who may have purchased frozen mice from Biggers and Callaham LLC (which is also doing business as –D/B/A—MiceDirect) that these products, which are used as food for reptiles, have the potential to be contaminated with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">Salmonella.

Because children, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk for Salmonellosis, the disease caused by Salmonella, they should avoid handling either frozen rodents used as reptile food or reptiles. Children aged five years and under should not handle either frozen rodents used as reptile food or reptiles.

After handling either frozen rodents used as reptile food or reptiles themselves, individuals should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and warm water and use a disinfectant to thoroughly clean surfaces that were in contact with frozen rodents.

The FDA is actively investigating positive Salmonella findings in frozen mice and environmental samples taken at the company’s Cleveland, Georgia plant. After being informed of the positive samples, Biggers and Callaham voluntarily recalled all frozen mice, rats, and chicks purchased between May 2009 and July 23, 2010. The frozen reptile feed was distributed in all states, except Hawaii, through pet stores and by mail order and direct delivery.

On Aug. 2, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 34 human illnesses in 17 states were associated with handling frozen rodents used for reptile food sourced from Biggers and Callaham. In general, snakes and other reptiles can harbor many strains of Salmonella for several years, but still appear healthy.

Frozen reptile feed was shipped in plastic bags with the following product codes: M-SP100, M-P100, M-PF100, M-F100, M-H100, M-W50, M-A50, M-JA25, R-P100, R-F50, R-PUP50, R-W50, R-S50, R-M20, R-L10, R-J5, R-C5, R-M3 followed by E9, F9, G9, H9, I9, J9, K9, L9 or A10, B10, C10, D10, E10, F10, G10 and whole frozen chicks in 25 count bags.

The FDA is advising consumers with the contaminated product to place it in a sealed container in the trash so that no children, pets, or other animals, such as wildlife, may be able to reach it.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. People infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Most people recover from Salmonella infections within four to seven days without treatment. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses, such as arterial infections (infected aneurysms), infection of the lining of the heart, arthritis, and even death without proper treatment, such as antibiotics.

According to the CDC, most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection; infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.

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