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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Linked to Jouni Meats and Gab Halal Foods, but what was the source?

In January 2013 local, state and federal officials announced an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to consumption of ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods.  Public health investigators used DNA “fingerprints” of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to identify patients considered to be part of the outbreak. Collaborative investigative efforts indicated that ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods were the likely source of the outbreak.

A total of 22 persons infected with the outbreak strain were reported from six states:  Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Among persons for whom information was available, illness onset dates ranged from December 9, 2012 to February 20, 2013.  Ill persons ranged in age from 2 years to 87 years. Among 14 persons with available information, 7 ill persons were hospitalized.  No deaths were reported.

Initial investigations focused on 7 ill persons in Michigan (6) and Arizona (1) who reported eating at the same restaurant before their illness began.  All seven of these ill persons reported eating raw ground beef kibbeh (a dish typically made of finely ground red meat, usually beef, minced onions, and bulghur wheat) at this restaurant before becoming ill.  An additional 9 ill persons were interviewed and answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures during the week before becoming ill.  Although several of these ill persons reported eating beef prior to becoming ill, a likely source was not identified that linked these illnesses with the illnesses at the restaurant.

On January 24, 2013 Jouni Meats, Inc. recalled approximately 500 pounds of ground beef products.[1]  In the FSIS recall news release announcing this recall, FSIS stated that the investigation identified that raw ground beef was consumed at a restaurant. The products subject to recall are various size packages of ground beef. These products were produced between December 4, 2012 and December 9, 2012, and distributed to a restaurant in Macomb County, Michigan, and sold directly to consumers at Jouni Meats, Inc.  On January 25, 2013 Gab Halal Foods recalled approximately 550 pounds of ground beef products.[2]  The products subject to recall are various size packages of ground beef wrapped in clear plastic. These products were produced between Dec. 4, 2012, and Dec. 10, 2012, and distributed to a restaurant in Macomb County, Michigan, and sold directly to consumers at Gab Halal Foods.

The causal link between our clients’ Salmonella Typhimurium infection and ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. is clear.  On December 8, 2012 they ate kibbeh prepared at Ikes Restaurant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.  They shared this meal with other family members, who were also diagnosed with Salmonella Typhimurium.

On March 15, 2013 the CDC issued a final notice declaring the outbreak to be over.[3]  Yet, no one has yet to trace the Salmonella Typhimurium to its source.