Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Italian-Style Meats

Since early 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated an ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to Italian-style meats.1,2,3 Illnesses reported between February 14 and March 20, 2022, indicated an ongoing outbreak. The announcement, issued on April 12, 2022, provided an overview. The outbreak has affected at least 36 people across 17 states, with ten people requiring hospitalization. No deaths were reported as of the time of the announcement.

Ongoing investigations by the CDC, in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)4 and state health officials, identified Italian-style meats as the likely source of the outbreak. Examples include salami and prosciutto, with no specific brand or supplier or single source of contamination identified. Consumers were advised to avoid Italian-style meats,5 particularly pre-packaged, sliced, or deli-counter meats, and to follow safe food handling practices to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. CDC regularly updates its website with data on foodborne illness outbreak.6

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation update provides information on progress and any findings related to the Salmonella outbreak. As with CDC, the FDA investigation is ongoing, and no specific brand or supplier of Italian-style meats has been identified as the single source of the outbreak. The FDA is conducting traceback investigations to identify the source of the contaminated products and determine where they were distributed.

In addition to Italian-style meats, the FDA investigation is looking at other potential sources of contamination, such as animal feed and ingredients used in the production of the meats. The FDA is also working with industry and regulatory partners to implement measures to prevent future outbreaks of Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. Consumers are advised to avoid consuming Italian-style meats, particularly pre-packaged, sliced, or deli-counter meats, and to follow safe food handling practices to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Consumer Reports, a consumer information and advocacy nonprofit organization, has been covering the Salmonella outbreak linked to Italian-style meats. Consumer Reports recommends safe food handling practices, such as washing hands and surfaces that come into contact with raw meat, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Also, heating deli meats to 74 °C (165 °F) will kill the bacteria. 

If Italian-style meats have been purchased, check with the store or retailer to determine if they are part of the outbreak. Dispose of the product to be safe. If Salmonella infection symptoms develop after consuming Italian-style meats, such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, seek medical attention and report the illness to the local health department.

In summary, the ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to Italian-style meats has affected multiple states and individuals. A single source of the contamination has not been identified, but investigations are ongoing by CDC, FDA, and state health officials. Consumers should follow safe food handling practices recommended by the CDC and avoid Italian-style meats until more information is available. FDA and Consumer Reports are also providing updates and guidance on the outbreak investigation.

CDC recommends four basic food handling steps to help prevent the spread of Salmonella and keep food safe:

Proper cleaning and hand hygiene: Wash hands, surfaces, and utensils often to prevent cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria, including Salmonella. CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and using the restroom. Wash utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water. Published studies have found that handwashing with soap and water effectively reduced Salmonella contamination.

Avoid cross-contamination: To prevent cross-contamination, keep raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods. Cross-contamination can occur when bacteria from one food item spreads to another. CDC recommends using separate cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods and avoiding contact between them. Published studies have found that using separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods effectively reduced Salmonella contamination.

Use proper cooking temperatures: Use a food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to a safe internal temperature, which kills any bacteria that may be present, including Salmonella. Published studies have found that cooking meat to an internal temperature of 71 °C (160 °F) or higher effectively reduced Salmonella contamination.

Proper storage: Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly to prevent bacteria from growing, including Salmonella. CDC recommends storing perishable foods, such as meat and eggs, in the refrigerator at or below 4 °C (40 °F). Published studies have found that storing eggs at refrigeration temperatures significantly reduced the number of Salmonella cells.

Refrences

 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Investigation Announcement: Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Italian-Style Meats.” April 12, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/italian-style-meats-02-22/index.html.
  2. CDC. “Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Italian-Style Meats.” April 15, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/italian-style-meats-02-22/map.html.
  3. Consumer Reports. “Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Italian-Style Meats.” April 19, 2022. https://www.consumerreports.org/food-safety/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-italian-style-meats/.
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Outbreak Investigation: Salmonella Italian-Style Meats.” April 22, 2022. https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/outbreak-investigation-salmonella-italian-style-meats-2022.
  5. Reiley, L. “CDC warns against eating Italian-style meats linked to Salmonella outbreak.” The Washington Post. April 19, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/04/19/salmonella-italian-meat-outbreak-cdc-warning/.
  6. CDC. “Foodborne Outbreaks.” 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/index.html.
  7. FDA. “Investigations of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks.” 2023. https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/investigations-foodborne-illness-outbreaks.