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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Wednesday evening it’s investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections that it believes stem from peaches. In response, two large grocery chains, ALDI and Target, are removing those peaches from stores.
The peaches sold in ALDI stores since June 1 were either in two-pound clear bags labeled Wawona Packing Co., or sold as loose bulk fruit,, the FDA said. The affected peaches have also been sold by Target, according to Department of Health in Minnesota, where Target is based.
So far, 68 people have become ill from the contaminated peaches, some requiring hospitalization, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). The Minnesota Department of Health says its first known case was July 12. The FDA, CDC and their state and local partners are investigating the source of contamination and how widely the peaches have been distributed.
Illnesses have been reported in nine states so far: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The FDA initially said the peaches had been distributed in at least 16 states. Overnight, that number rose to 20 states.
In response, Teresa Murray, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog, issued the following statement:
“It’s troubling that dozens of people have been getting sick from these peaches for more than a month and the public is just now finding out about it. This puts a big spotlight on the urgent need to better track food through the supply chain so we can identify infections more quickly and recall contaminated food immediately. Consumers shouldn’t have to fear getting violently ill from eating a summertime favorite.
“This outbreak also highlights the problem with the way consumers generally find out about food recalls: through the media. Consumers may not learn about recalls affecting items they’ve purchased in a timely fashion. Grocery stores themselves need to be part of the solution by actively contacting customers who’ve bought recalled items. The majority of the time, stores know who buys what. We use our discount or loyalty cards. They have our emails and maybe even our phone numbers. Stores should want to notify their customers as soon as possible to keep them safe.
“U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Food Recall Failure: Will your supermarket warn you about hazardous food? scorecard gave a failing grade to 84 percent of the nation’s 26 largest grocery chains. Chains were graded on their efforts to inform the public about recall notification efforts, including how to sign up for direct notifications or where to find in-store postings. ALDI got a failing grade, though Target was one of the few that passed.
“The CDC estimates that 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness every year; 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Some cases come from food bought at the grocery store. This needs to change. We can do better.”
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