CDC Concludes Investigation of Garden of Life Raw Meal Products; States More Outbreak Cases Possible
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the conclusion of its investigation into a 23-state outbreak of Salmonella Virchow associated with Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal Replacement products. The Raw Meal products were manufactured, produced and distributed by Garden of Life LLC, a company based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Despite the conclusion of its investigation, the CDC expressed concern that additional outbreak cases may still occur. According to the CDC, the recalled products “have a long shelf life and may still be in people’s homes.” Because of the long shelf life, consumers unaware of the recall “could continue to eat the products and potentially get sick.”
FDA Outbreak Investigation Continues
According to the information available on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website, that agency has not yet concluded its outbreak investigation. The information available related to the outbreak includes the following statement:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local officials are investigation a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Virchow.
“The investigation is ongoing,” the FDA release states, promising that the agency “will continue to provide updates on the investigation as they become available.
Following the initial recall of a limited number of Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal products, which the company stated it initiated in an “overabundance of caution,” the FDA “[worked] with [Garden of Life] to facilitate the company’s expanded recall, announced on February 12th.
Outbreak Highlights and Case Demographics
Since December 5, 2015, 33 people living in 23 states contracted Salmonella Virchow after consuming Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal products made by Garden of Life, LLC. The final case count includes an additional six cases not included in the previous update. The last known case of the outbreak strain occurred over a month ago, on March 18th.
The median age of persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow is 35; however, outbreak patients ranged widely in age from less than one year to 84 years old. The gender distribution was almost even, with males accounting for 47% of confirmed cases.
6 of the 27 individuals with available information required hospitalization as a result of their illness (22% of the 27 cases). No deaths have been associated with the outbreak at this time.
Slightly over half of the states reported at least one confirmed outbreak case related to the Garden of Life products, which were distributed and available for purchase in retail stores nationwide. In addition, online retailers made the product readily available for purchase online from any location.
The following 15 states confirming an infected patient with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow reported only one confirmed case: Illinois, Massachusetts, Alabama, Wisconsin, Hawaii, West Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Oregon, Michigan, Tennessee, New York, Rhode Island, and New Mexico.
Only eight states reported more than one outbreak case, with six states confirming two Salmonella Virchow infections matching the outbreak strain. These states include Texas, California, New Jersey, Ohio, and Maryland. Only two states – Utah and Michigan – reported three cases. No state reported more than three cases, illustrating the nationwide reach of the outbreak.
The widespread distribution of cases may also provide some insight into the potential impact of internet sales on future foodborne outbreaks, as many outbreak cases reported ordering the meal replacement powder online.