Minnesota Salmonella Outbreak Accidentally Revealed by Oregon Company
Pacific Coast Fruit Co., a Portland, Oregon company, posted a notice on its website “in response to the recall of Organic Kale Medley ‘Power Greens Mix’ from Taylor Farms. The product is being recalled for potential contamination with Salmonella.”
The company issued the statement, addressed to “[their] customers and the Pacific Coast Fruit Team,” was released to verify that the company had not received any of the salad blends believed to be the cause of the outbreak.
The notice, which can be seen in full at the end of this post, continued by stating:
At this point, this outbreak appears to be confined to one product, one state (Minnesota), and one retailer (Sam’s Club).
The release posted on the company’s website went on to list information about an apparent ongoing outbreak in Minnesota linked to consumption of the Taylor Farms product, including details related to state health officials’ investigation into the illnesses.
Within a few hours of being mentioned in a post on a popular blog, the company had removed the page altogether.
Minnesota Kale Medley Power Greens Quietly Recalled by Sam’s Club
According to the Pacific Coast release, an outbreak of Salmonella linked to Taylor Farms Organic Kale Medley – a “power greens” mix including spinach, kale, chard, and shredded carrots – was actively being investigated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
The product had been distributed to Sam’s Club locations nationwide, and, according to the notice, all Sam’s Club locations pulled the Taylor Farms Organic Kale Medley from shelves on April 4th and, as of the time of the Pacific Coast posting, was in the process of notifying all customers who purchased the product in Minnesota since March 1, 2016.
Six Individuals Sickened in Taylor Farms Minnesota Outbreak
Six cases of Salmonella Enteritidis infections with the same “rare DNA fingerprint pattern” were reported to the Minnesota Department of Health in April. Ages of the outbreak victims ranged from 7 years old on the young side to 69 years of age.
The counties reporting illnesses included Dakota, Hennepin, Itasca, Olmstead and St. Louis. One person was hospitalized, and “all are recovering.”
Five of the people who fell ill in Minnesota reported eating the same Taylor Farms Kale Medley salad mix, each purchased at a Sam’s Club warehouse, and the source of the sixth person’s illness “is under investigation.”
Taylor Farms Confirms Six Salmonella Cases
Bruce Taylor, chairman and CEO of Taylor Farms, admitted that Minnesota officials had given him notice about the ongoing investigation. It remains unclear, however, who the initial May 6th statement from the company was targeted at. The statement was not available on the Taylor Farms website on May 14th or 15th, and it is unknown whether the statement was ever posted to the company site.
On May 15th, a spokesman for the company defended Taylor Farms’ decision not to make a public recall announcement:
No recall was needed because the issue being investigated was from back in late March early April. So, independent of the findings of the investigation, the product is no longer in the market place due to shelf-life limitations.
The question remains, however: what if the problem had been more widespread than company officials initially believed it to be? The first CRF Frozen Foods recall of eleven frozen food items comes to mind. Company officials believed that the moderate recall covered the issue, but were forced to recall over 350 products just days later.
Why not err on the safe side of the consumers, and not the safe side of the corporation, when making such decisions?