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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

ConAgra Salmonella Tennessee Case Count Continues to Grow

As you may remember, the FDA and Con Agra made the original Peanut Butter recall announcement on February 14, 2007. Now the “official” CDC culture-confirmed (through urine, stool or blood) Salmonella Tennessee cases are 481 related to Peter Pan and Great Value. The dates of onset of illness according to the below chart is August 1, 2006 to May 22, 2007. The “official” Peanut Butter case count (all Salmonella Tennessee positives) amount to 629.

The 629 number may be all Salmonella Tennessee positives on record at the CDC in a period (perhaps the October 2004 to February 2007 recall period), or be Salmonella Tennessee positives not yet Epidemiologically linked to the Peanut Butter outbreak. The CDC estimates that for every 1 culture-positive case there are 38.6 times more actual cases. Using the CDC numbers, it is estimated that between 18,500 and 24,275 cases of Salmonella Tennessee are related to the ConAgra outbreak.  I expect that the CDC will publish the above chart and confirm the outbreak numbers in the next week.

I wrote about the increasing numbers in a blog post on April 12, 2007:

ConAgra Salmonella Tennessee Cases Grow

I have learned that the current Salmonella Tennessee case stool and urine positives (substantial numbers of ill people had urinary tract infections instead of stool cultures) have raised to 563 in 47 States. The first reported case is in August 2006 and remaining constant, but low, through September, spiking in October, November, December and then starting to trend down in January and February 2007. There does not appear to be a significant number of matched Salmonella Tennessee cases pre-August 2006 (ten in August and thirteen January to July 2006 and thirty cases in 2005) that are EPI-linked to Peanut Butter despite the recall date being extended to October 2004 (I am not aware of many matched Salmonella Tennessee cases in 2004, although there may well be a few).

I also posted about this outbreak generally on March 10, 2007:

Lawyers, Lawsuits and Statistics in the Peanut Butter Wars

The CDC reported in a statement March 7, 2007, that 425 people in 44 states had been infected with the strain of Salmonella Tennessee also found in Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter products, and that 71 people had been hospitalized and no deaths. FDA investigators in the Con Agra plant also found that same Salmonella strain, but where it was located has not been announced. Two-thirds of the reported 425 cases began after December 1, 2006.

Putting this in context, the CDC estimates that 76 million foodborne illness, or food poisoning, cases occur in the United States every year (6.3 million per month), which means that one in four Americans contracts a foodborne illness annually after eating foods contaminated with such pathogens as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Shigella, Norovirus, and Listeria. Approximately 325,000 people are hospitalized with a diagnosis of food poisoning, and 5,000 die.

The CDC also reports that 40,000 cases of Salmonella are confirmed yearly in the U.S. As only about 3% of Salmonella cases are officially confirmed nationwide, and many milder cases are never diagnosed, the true incidence is undoubtedly much higher (approximately 1.4 million per year or 110,000 per month). It is estimated that 1,000 deaths are caused by Salmonella infections in the U.S. every year.

  • kathy

    We have a jar of the peanit butter that was recalled!
    Befre the recall my husband was having flu like sickness but kept going to work.
    Finall he ending up taking two days off but didnt go into doctor since we have a large copay for him and are on a very tight budget.
    He is the bread winner as they say, since i’m disabled.
    Anyway he went back to work didnt have sick days.
    Then after awhile we heard about the recall and
    realiaed i was feeding it to my husband for lunch
    five days a week!!!!
    I called an attorney and they said we should have gone to a doctor!!!
    I see that Congra says return to store for refund!
    People should be given more then that for all the pain and suffering!
    Thanks for listening.