Safeway Ground Beef Linked to Multi-Drug Resistant Salmonella Newport Sold in Five States

Salmonella tainted ground beef linked to 38 illnesses was sold at Safeway supermarkets in 5 states, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said today.   The contaminated ground beef is responsible for an outbreak of multi-drug resistant Salmonella poisoning in at least four Western states.  The USDA is only considering this action an “alert” and it does not constitute a recall because the agency could not identify specific establishments, lots and products directly related to the <"">Salmonella outbreak that would be subject to a recall.   The USDA said it has no reason to believe that these products are still available for sale at any Safeway market.

The Salmonella infected fresh ground beef was sold at Safeway supermarkets in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico between Sept. 19 and Nov. 5, 2007.  The USDA is asking customers of Safeway supermarkets to check their freezers for any Safeway ground beef purchased during that time, and destroy any unused meat.  The Safeway fresh ground beef may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport, a type of bacteria resistant to many of the antibiotics routinely used to treat Salmonella poisoning.   This drug resistance makes it more likely that a Salmonella Newport infection will lead to hospitalization or serious complications.   So far, 38 cases of this illness have been reported in Arizona (16), California (18), Idaho (1) and Nevada (3). According to the USDA health alert, the illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their rare PFGE pattern found in PulseNet, a database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Salmonella bacteria cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 72 hours of exposure. Children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to complications from Salmonella poisoning. In rare cases, extreme instances of Salmonella poisoning can lead to a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, which is associated with chronic arthritis. According to the CDC, Salmonella bacteria sicken 40,000 people every year. Although the true number could be much higher, because it is estimated that for every case of Salmonella poisoning reported, two others are unreported.  Because of the drug-resistant nature of Salmonella Newport, anyone exhibiting symptoms should contact a health care provider immediately.

This year, several Salmonella outbreaks have been traced to tainted commercial foods. Earlier in the summer, Salmonella-laced Veggie Booty Snack Mix sickened more than 100 people around the country. And in February, Salmonella in ConAgra’s Great Value and Peter Pan Peanut Butter made more than 600 people ill.   In October, it was learned that another ConAgra product was behind a Salmonella outbreak. The company recalled its Banquet and store brand pot pies on October 11, and the tainted pot pies have been linked to more than 270 cases of Salmonella poisoning nationwide.

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