December 31, 2014 — Hundreds of people were infected in outbreaks of food poisoning this year. There were some familiar culprits, such as bean sprouts, but also unexpected outbreaks linked to caramel apples, chia seeds, and Mexican cheese.
Here were the top 5 outbreaks of food poisoning our editorial team covered in 2014.
1. Cyclospora Outbreak
Texas was hit hard by an outbreak of Cyclospora, a parasite that can cause months of watery diarrhea. This is the second year in a row that imported fresh produce from Mexico has been linked to a Cyclospora outbreak. This year, about 300 illnesses reported by the CDC, 64% of which occurred in Texas.
2. Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak
This holiday season was marred by a deadly outbreak of Listeria linked to pre-packaged, commercial caramel apples. At least 32 people in 11 states were infected, including five who died. Three invasive meningitis infections occurred in children between the ages of 5-15. Nine infections occurred in pregnant women.
3. Bean Sprouts
There were two serious outbreaks of food poisoning linked to bean spouts. The deadliest was linked to mung bean sprouts from Wholesome Soy Products that were contaminated with Listeria. In August and October, FDA inspectors found evidence of unsanitary conditions. Five people were infected in Illinois and Michigan, including two who died.
In December, the CDC reported 111 people in 12 states were infected with Salmonella. Most of them reported eating bean sprouts, and the outbreak was traced to Brooklyn-based Wonton Foods, Inc.
4. Organic Chia Seed Powder
Raw organic chia seed powder was linked to an outbreak of Salmonella. At least 31 people in 16 states were infected with three different strains. The powder is made from chia seeds that are sprouted, dried, and ground up into a fine powder. Recalls were issued by five companies.
5. Food Safety Summit
About 216 attendees of the nation’s largest food safety conference in Baltimore were sickened with food poisoning. The outbreak was blamed on chicken marsala that was contaminated with Clostridium perfringens. The irony of this outbreak was not lost on the national news, making this one of the most well-publicized outbreaks of 2014.
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