Meet the Outbreaks

Hamburgers character

Hammy Burgens

Food Type:
Hamburger
Pathogen:
E. coli O157:H7
Location:
A restaurant chain across four states
Impact:
732 people affected
178 permanently damaged
4 deaths

The real case

In 1993, a popular fast-food restaurant ran a promotion and discounted their hamburger sales across four states. Unfortunately, the restaurant received meat contaminated with E. coli from their suppliers. The restaurant cooked the beef according to federal standards of the time, bringing the internal temperature to 140 °F (60 °C). However, this temperature was not high enough to kill the bacteria. The guideline has since been raised to 160 °F (71.1 °C).

How to prevent or mitigate

Recalling contaminated products;ensuring that the food is cooked to above 165 °F before freezing; following reheating guidelines.

Pizza character

Cheesy McPizza

Food Type:
Frozen pizza
Pathogen:
E. coli O157:H7
Location:
Southern United States
Impact:
21 people affected

The real case

In the summer of 2007, 21 individuals from 10 states across the Southeast were infected by a strain of E. coli. The outbreak was linked to the pepperoni in two frozen pizza brands.

How to prevent or mitigate

Recall of products, ensuring that the product is cooked to above 165 degrees before freezing, consumers following reheating guidelines.

Salsa Y Queso character

Callie N. Tae

Food Type:
Salsa and chili con queso
Pathogen:
Hepatitis A virus (HAV)
Location:
Pennsylvania restaurant
Impact:
555 people infected
3 deaths

The real case

In 2003, the largest outbreak of Hepatitis A killed 3 of the 555 infected people. The outbreak was traced back to green onions that were imported from Mexico, and used in salsa and queso.

How to prevent or mitigate

Proper washing of produce, the public being vaccinated, and proper handwashing.

Ice Cream character

Mr. Frosty Freeze

Food Type:
Ice cream
Pathogen:
Listeria monocytogenes
Location:
Southern United States
Impact:
10 people infected
3 deaths

The real case

In 2015, Listeria was found in an ice cream in South Carolina. Other states were prompted to test, and also found Listeria in ice cream products in their states. The outbreak grew to affect 10 people in four states. Three people died as a result.

How to prevent or mitigate

Since Listeria grows best at cooler temperatures, it’s important with cold products such as ice cream to make sure that proper tests are in place to ensure the product is free of bacteria.

Leafy greens character

'Dirty Sal' Addison

Food Type:
Leafy greens
Pathogen:
E. coli O157:H7
Location:
24 states
Impact:
18 people affected
9 hospitalized
2 developed kidney failure
1 death

The real case

Between late 2017 and early 2018, the CDC and FDA were investigating several cases of infection by E. coli. In total, 18 people were infected, 9 people were hospitalized, 2 people developed kidney failure, and 1 person died. No one company or product was ever identified as the cause of the outbreak.

How to prevent or mitigate

Product recalls, washing vegetables prior to packaging, washing vegetables after purchase, educating consumers about proper vegetable handling.

Pot pie character

King Krusty

Food Type:
Frozen pot pie
Pathogen:
Salmonella
Location:
34 states
Impact:
270 people affected
67 hospitalized

The real case

The 2001, over 270 individuals were affected by an outbreak of Salmonella in individual frozen pot pies. The pot pies were sold under several different brand names and were distributed nationwide. The affected individuals lived in 34 different states, and 67 people were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak.

How to prevent or mitigate

Proper sanitization of processing lines, training of manufacturing employees, stricter regulations about non-compliance with food safety protocol. Ensuring products are cooked to and stored at the proper temperatures.