Tainted Spinach Company Given Okay to Ship

Late last week we wrote about an emerging <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/salmonella">Salmonella outbreak linked to Kleen-Pak bagged, fresh spinach which, according to a WKBT report at the time, was distributed through a Milwaukee-based food processor and tested positive for the dangerous, sometimes fatal pathogen. According to The Packer, Kleen-Pac has now been approved to resume shipping of its product.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) confirmed last week that Kleen-Pac spinach tested positive for Salmonella in routine food safety tests and advised consumers to either discard or return the recalled spinach to the store of purchase, said WKBT. Kleen-Pac recalled about 8,000 retail packs and 1,200 pounds of wholesale and foodservice curly leaf spinach, said The Packer.

The recall involved ten-ounce and one-pound packages of Kleen-Pak brand, curly-leaf fresh spinach containing “use by dates” of April 29, April 30, and May 1 (4/29, 4/30 and 5/1). The recalled spinach was distributed to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois and was shipped to Kleen-Pak by Pinto Creek Co. LLC, of Queen Creek, Arizona. Because the recall involved more than one state, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) became involved said WKBT earlier, noting that the contamination is not connected to the ongoing investigations into Salmonella contamination of peanut butter products, pistachios, or alfalfa sprout seeds.

The Packer reported that the Wisconsin DATCP told Kleen-Pak Foods yesterday that tests of its spinach processing equipment revealed no indication of Salmonella, citing Kleen-Pak vice president Jerry Kowaleski. The Packer said prior tests of spinach in Kleen-Pak coolers also came back with no trace of the pathogen. Kleen-Pak could resume spinach repacking as early as today, according to Kowaleski, said The Packer.

Salmonella 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 within 12 to 72 hours of contamination. Generally, the illness lasts a week, but, in some, hospitalization is required because the infection may have spread to the blood stream and other body sites, producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis. Without treatment, severe cases of Salmonellosis can result in death. Unfortunately, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.

Salmonella is usually found in food contaminated with animal feces and is a group of bacteria that passes from the feces of people or animals to other people or animals, causing contamination when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not wash their hands or sanitize implements involved in food storage.

Salmonella is the most frequently reported cause of food-related outbreaks of stomach illness worldwide and Salmonella poisoning can lead to Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. A victim of Reiter’s Syndrome may have already been treated for the initial infection, and it can be weeks before the symptoms of Reiter’s Syndrome become apparent. Reiter’s Syndrome, which can plague its victims for months or years, is said to occur when reactive arthritis is evident and at least one other non-joint area, such as the eyes, skin, or muscles, is affected.

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