Cucumbers Linked to Salmonella Could Pose ‘Serious Adverse Health Consequences or Death’

If you’ve been holding off on salads after hearing about the cucumber recall earlier this month, you might want to wait a little longer: The FDA has released information suggesting the cukes could pose a particularly serious health risk.

Here’s what’s been going on. On June 1, the FDA announced that cardboard boxes of cucumbers had been recalled for possibly being contaminated with salmonella bacteria, a common cause of food poisoning. The cartons were brown with red and green accents, and the cucumbers dark green, around one and half to two inches in diameter, and five to nine inches long, according to the FDA.

The affected cukes were shipped by Fresh Start Produce Sales, Inc., a Delray, Florida-based company, to 14 states from May 17 through May 21 (but may have reached more, according to the release). English cucumbers and mini cucumbers were not included in the recall.

On June 5, the FDA and the CDC announced they were investigating a salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers—which had reportedly sickened 162 folks in 25 states and the District of Columbia—and that one sample supplied by Fresh Start Produce Sales tested positive for the bacteria. One week later, the organization released an update: Now, nearly 200 people in 28 states and the District of Columbia were affected. According to the FDA, the outbreak was caused by a strain of salmonella known as Salmonella Africana, and the type found in the sample of recalled Fresh Start cukes contained a different strain, Salmonella Bareilly.

Still, on June 14, the FDA assigned a Class I risk level to the cucumbers. This designation is the highest assigned to food recalls; it indicates the affected items could “cause serious adverse health consequences or death,” as a representative for the FDA told SELF. The FDA says the strain of bacteria in the Fresh Start cucumbers doesn’t match any ongoing salmonella outbreaks (though they haven’t said whether they’re linked to any infections overall), and the CDC reports it’s not currently investigating any associated with Salmonella Bareilly. The organization is, however, “collecting more information to see if other cucumbers are affected.”

Salmonella causes about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year, according to CDC estimates. Symptoms can be pretty gnarly, and include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea (which can be bloody). But salmonella infection can also cause more severe illness and even death—especially for children under five years old, people 65 and older, and folks with compromised immune systems.

The good news is, at this point, it’s not likely that the affected cucumbers are still lurking in produce sections, according to the FDA. If you’re concerned that the cukes might have reached your local grocery, you can check with the retailer to see whether the cukes ever sold there, according to the FDA. And, if you suspect you might have purchased one, definitely don’t eat it, the agency says. Instead, destroy or discard it or return it to the retailer for a refund. And, per the CDC, make sure to wash items and surfaces that may have come into contact with it. If you develop severe salmonella symptoms, call your doc, the CDC adds.

Fresh Start has alerted customers who received the affected cucumbers directly from the company, the FDA says. If you have additional questions about the recall, you can contact the company at 1-888-364-2993 from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT. In the meantime, why not whip up one of these fun summer salad recipes instead?


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