The Third Biggest Outbreak of 2020: Wawona Peaches Salmonella
The Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak caused by Wawona peaches was declared over by the FDA on October 16, 2020, with 101 reported illnesses which required 28 hospitalizations, in the the United States. Although the contaminated peaches were distributed nationwide, illnesses were only reported from the following 17 states: CA, CT, IA, KS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, VT, WI, with the latest illness onset date being August 27, 2020. Of the 101 reported illnesses, 62 people (81 percent) reported to the CDC eating fresh peaches during the week preceding the onset of their illness.
The recall was originally initiated for bagged, bulk, and loose peaches, but was revised to include store made items containing the peaches, such as bakery items, as well as Russ Davis Wholesale peach salsa and gift baskets that contain the contaminated Prima Wawona peaches.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) also reported illnesses caused by Wawona peaches, with 57 confirmed cases that required 12 hospitalizations. The outbreak was localized to two provinces: Ontario (41) and Quebec (16). The contaminated peaches were also exported to several countries: Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates.
While the outbreak has been declared over, the investigation to determine the cause and source of the outbreak remains ongoing. The FDA is currently collaborating with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to find the source of contamination by investigating Wawona packing facilities and any orchards that may have supplied the contaminated peaches to Prima Wawona. Although the FDA has completed over 570 sample analyses, the specific strain of Salmonella Enteritidis that caused the outbreak has yet to be found. Without finding the exact strain, the FDA cannot declare the official cause or source of the outbreak.
According to National Salmonella lawyer Ron Simon, “We expect our food to be safe. Large food poisoning outbreaks, such as the Wawona peach Salmonella outbreak, should be a thing of the past. In order to curb food poisoning cases and prevent food borne illness outbreaks as a country, we must first determine the causes of each outbreak and hold the parties responsible for damages that are caused by their insufficient food safety standards and practices.”