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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Dozens of ConAgra Salmonella Pot Pie Cases Settled and CDC Finally Issues Report

Today, seventeen months after the first reported illness and thirteen months after the recall, the CDC finally issues its final report on the 2007 Salmonella serotype I 4,5,12:i:-* infections. The CDC report summarizes the results of the investigation, which determined that 401 cases of salmonellosis occurred in 41 states during 2007, with 32% of ill persons hospitalized. In October 2007 the illnesses were finally associated with consumption of Banquet® brand frozen, not-ready-to-eat pot pies. Further investigation determined that 77% of patients who ate these pies cooked them in microwave ovens and that consumer confusion regarding microwaving instructions might have resulted in a failure to cook the product properly.

A voluntary recall was issued by the manufacturer (ConAgra Foods Inc., Omaha, Nebraska) on October 11, 2007, for all nine brands of pot pies produced at the implicated plant. The outbreak strain was isolated from 13 samples of unopened Banquet pot pies collected from the homes of patients. This outbreak highlights the need to cook not-ready-to-eat frozen foods thoroughly; these products should be clearly labeled as requiring complete cooking, and cooking instructions should be validated to account for variability in microwave wattage and common misconceptions among consumers regarding the nature of not-ready-to-eat foods.