To date we have been retained by 29 families of 32 ill children. Hopefully, we are seeing the end of the increasing number of ill people. We have filed one lawsuit thus far in Federal Court in New York.
Public health officials in OutbreakNet (the network of epidemiologists and other public health officials, facilitated by CDC, who investigate outbreaks of foodborne, waterborne, and other enteric illnesses nationwide) are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Wandsworth infections. Salmonella Wandsworth is a rare strain of Salmonella.
Interviews comparing foods eaten by ill and well persons show that consumption of Robert’s American Gourmet brand Veggie Booty was statistically associated with illness and therefore the most likely source of the outbreak.
As of July 10 at 11AM ET, 60 persons infected with Salmonella Wandsworth have been reported to CDC from 19 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
Among the patients for whom clinical information is available, 77% developed bloody diarrhea and 10% were hospitalized. No deaths have been attributed to this infection. Onset dates, which are known for 58 patients, ranged from March 4, 2007 to June 15, 2007. Most (90%) of cases have occurred in children aged 10 months to 3 years. During the initial phase of the outbreak, the number of cases gradually increased, with only 8 cases reported from 6 states before May 1, 2007. Health department and CDC investigators worked for weeks conducting interviews with parents of ill children to develop theories about possible sources of infection.
A multi-state case-control study demonstrated a strong association between illness and consumption of Veggie Booty, a snack of puffed rice and corn with a vegetable coating. CDC OutbreakNet staff shared this information with colleagues at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 27. After being informed about the outbreak by FDA, the company that manufactures the product issued a voluntary recall on June 28. None of the 60 known illnesses from Salmonella Wandsworth had onset after the product recall date. Persons are advised to discard any product in their possession.
OutbreakNet officials at CDC and in state and local health departments, FDA, and the marketing and manufacturing companies are working collaboratively to learn more about production of Veggie Booty to determine how it may have become contaminated. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Laboratory (MDAL) has isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Wandsworth from 4 sealed bags of Veggie Booty obtained from retail stores. MDAL also isolated Salmonella Typhimurium, a different strain of Salmonella, from an additional sealed bag of Veggie Booty collected at the same time as the four bags positive for Salmonella Wandsworth.
On July 2, the company expanded the recall to include Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks. This was done due to the company’s concern that Veggie Booty and Super Veggie Tings share ingredients that could be contaminated. Persons should discard any Super Veggie Tings in their possession. CDC is not aware of any human illnesses associated with the consumption of Super Veggie Tings.