To put the dispute in context:  According to the CDC, a total of 265 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium were reported from 8 states (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Mississippi). WGS performed on bacteria isolated from ill people showed that they were closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 8, 2018, to March 20, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 89 years, with a median age of 57. Sixty-seven percent of people were female. Ninety-four hospitalizations were reported, including one person from Iowa who died.

Despite the overwhelming evidence from public health officials at the CDC and several states and the FDA and FSIS, this statement dribbled out this morning from the PR folks (assuming not the lawyers) from triple T Specialty Meats:

Triple T Specialty Meats Statement:  On behalf of the Heikens family and everyone at Triple T Specialty Meats, our deepest sympathy goes out to the individuals and families affected by the recent Fareway Chicken Salad incident. During our 22 years in business at Triple T Specialty Meats, consumer health and food safety has always been our number one priority; and will always be our number one priority!

After a thorough investigation and extensive testing by state of Iowa, USDA and FDA inspection teams, no salmonella was found at the Triple T Specialty Meats facility in Ackley. Further, no salmonella was found in any products tested at the Triple T Specialty Meats facility. Finally, all chicken salad produced by Triple T Specialty Meats; that remained in the original sealed packaging, tested negative for salmonella.

“We take this very seriously and will continue to work with all government agencies to assist in determining the source of the salmonella,” said Jolene Heikens, Co-Owner and CEO of Triple T Specialty Meats. “In the meantime, Triple T Specialty Meats is running business as usual and we appreciate our customer’s and the communities continued support. We will continue to provide only the highest quality product and services meeting all USDA and FDA regulations.”

All agency inspector’s reports showing “No Salmonella Found” have been provided to Triple T Specialty Meats and will be made available to customers or vendors upon request.

Triple T Specialty Meats is a family owned and operated specialty meat and food processor established in 1996 and operates in Ackley, Iowa by Greg and Jolene Heikens. The Heikens accredit much of their success to surrounding themselves with exceptional employees, but when you meet the Heikens and become acquainted with their brainstorming, get-after-it, fun-loving personalities, you will understand what makes Triple T Specialty Meats successful, but more importantly special.

I what could only be entitled “The Smack Down in Iowa,” Fareway set the record straight and stopped doing business with Triple T Specialty Meats.  The statement read:

Fareway Stores, Inc. Statement: Fareway Stores, Inc. wants to share information with our customers about the investigation of the outbreak of Salmonella illnesses linked to chicken salad made by Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc. State and federal investigators have concluded that Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc. was the source of the Salmonella Typhimurium in the chicken salad. The Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory found Salmonella Typhimurium in Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc. chicken salad collected from two different Fareway stores located 100 miles apart. One of those positive samples came from a sealed package of Triple T chicken salad that had never been opened by Fareway. 

As USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reported, “the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, and Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory determined that there is a link between the chicken salad from Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc. and this outbreak.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also confirmed that chicken salad produced by Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc. was the likely source of this multi-state illness outbreak.

In the course of these investigations, there have been no findings of any food safety issues in Fareway stores. Fareway has stopped doing business with Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc.

Body Slam!

Honestly, Triple T Specialty Meats is getting very bad PR advice, very bad business advice, but hopefully, not bad legal advice – We shall see.