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Fresh Start Produce Recalls Whole Cucumbers

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Fresh Start Produce Sales is recalling whole cucumbers due to the potential for contamination with Salmonella.

The recalled cucumbers were shipped in bulk cartons from May 17th through May 21st to retail distribution centers, wholesalers, and food service distributors in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. This recall was a result of a positive salmonella sample that was collected and tested by state partners in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in response to a Salmonella Africana outbreak.

The FDA and CDC, in collaboration with state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Africana infections potentially linked to cucumbers. Based on epidemiological information collected by CDC for the Salmonella Africana investigation, as of June 4, 162 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Africana have been reported from 25 states. Of the 65 people interviewed, 47 (72%) reported eating cucumbers. There have been four illnesses in Rhode Island associated with this outbreak. RIDOH's Center for Food Protection and the State Health Laboratories collected and tested cucumbers in response to the Rhode Island illnesses. All samples have tested negative for Salmonella.

CDC and FDA are also investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup infections, with 158 illnesses in 23 states. There have been three RI illnesses associated with this outbreak. The two outbreaks share several similarities, including where and when illnesses occurred and the demographics of ill people. Investigators are working to determine whether the two outbreaks could be linked to the same food vehicle. Information will be provided on the source of the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak as it becomes available.

The investigations are ongoing to determine the source(s) of contamination and whether these or other products are linked to illnesses. Further testing is underway to determine if the strain of Salmonella from the cucumber sample is the same strain that is making people sick.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Although the recalled cucumbers were not distributed directly to Rhode Island, anyone with the recalled product should not consume it and should destroy and discard it or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Consumers with additional questions may contact the company at 1-888-364-2993.

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