As spring’s E. coli and salmonella outbreaks faded after causing, respectively, five deaths and a record recall, news of three more foodborne illness outbreaks within a week hit consumers.

Share story

The U.S. consumer can be forgiven any Foodborne Illness Outbreak Confusion and Fatigue.

As spring’s E. coli (romaine lettuce) and salmonella (eggshells) outbreaks faded after causing, respectively, five deaths and a record recall, news of three more foodborne illness outbreaks within a week hit consumers.

These aren’t just preventive warnings and recalls, such as when a food company yanks a product before people get sick after the product or food manufacturing facility tests positive for some contamination. That describes most recalls having to do with salmonella and listeria. The epitome of that is the 2017 Aunt Jemima frozen-food recall, when listeria was found in the plant.

These are outbreaks — people are already sick in multiple states. These recalls and warnings are both reactionary and preventive.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s what with each one.

Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and salmonella

Food involved and recalled: Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. On Thursday, the company recalled its 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce boxes with best-by dates from June 14, 2018, to June 14, 2019. On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised people to throw out all Honey Smacks they have at home because “The recall notice accounts for all of the product that is on the market within the cereal’s estimated one year shelf-life. However, Honey Smacks products with earlier dates could also potentially be contaminated.”

Where was it sold: The United States, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, the Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Panama, Guam, Tahiti and Saipan.

What’s the problem: A salmonella outbreak traces back to Honey Smacks. Salmonella is one of the most common foodborne illnesses. It usually causes diarrhea, fever and stomach aches within 12 hours or three days of infection. Symptoms usually last four to seven days. Hospitalization is rare, usually around 2 percent.

Number of sick so far and where: 73 sick, 24 of which have been hospitalized, in 31 states. Alabama (two), Arizona (one), California (five), Connecticut (three), Georgia (two), Illinois (one), Indiana (three), Kentucky (one), Louisiana (two), Massachusetts (five), Maryland (one), Michigan (four), Mississippi (one), Montana (one), New Hampshire (one), New Jersey (three), New York (seven), North Carolina (three), Ohio (one), Oklahoma (two), Oregon (one), Pennsylvania (five), Rhode Island (two), South Carolina (one), Tennessee (one), Texas (two), Utah (one), Virginia (four), Washington (three), Wisconsin (one) and West Virginia (three)

What next: The FDA is inspecting the manufacturing plant that makes Honey Smacks for Kellogg. It’s possible other, similar cereals are made for other brands at that plant. There could be more recalls coming. Also, expect the sick count to rise as more get reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pre-cut melons and salmonella

Food involved and recalled: Pre-cut watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew and melon mixes produced at Caito Foods’ Indianapolis facility from April 17 through June 7.

Where was it sold: They were sold in plastic clamshell containers at Walmart (Freshness Guaranteed); Whole Foods/Amazon (Whole Foods Market); Costco (Garden Highway); Kroger (generic label distributed by Renaissance Food Group); Walgreens (Delish); Trader Joe’s (Trader Joe’s); Jay C; Payless; Owen’s; and Sprouts (Sprouts Farmers Market).

At first, the food was said to be distributed only in the Midwest. Friday’s FDA update expands that to retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In a move rare for the FDA, it did what the U.S. Department of Agriculture does and released a list of retail locations that received the fruit.

What’s the problem: Salmonella.

Number of sick so far and where: 60, 31 of whom have been hospitalized, in five states. Michigan (32), Indiana (11), Missouri (10), Illinois (six), Ohio (one).

What next: There might be more stores added to the distribution list. Note to those concerned in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Neither Publix nor Winn-Dixie are on the list.

Del Monte Veg Trays and cyclospora

Food involved and recalled: Del Monte 6-ounce, 12-ounce and 28-ounce Veg Trays with Dip, best-by dates June 17 and before. Each one has baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and dill dip. The 28-ounce trays also have celery sticks.

Where was it sold: Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, Food Max Supermarket and Peapod stores in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

What’s the problem: Cyclospora, described by the FDA as “a microscopic parasite of humans” that causes cyclosporiasis. Symptoms are “diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements … loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted.”

Number of sick so far and where: 78 people, 4 of which have been hospitalized, in four states. Wisconsin (50), Minnesota (23), Iowa (three), Michigan (two).

What next: The FDA admits it doesn’t know “which of the ingredients is the vehicle for this outbreak; each component of these vegetable trays is under consideration.” Also, the distribution list might get wider, as it did in the melon-salmonella outbreak.