Top 10 Biggest Foodborne Illness-Related Disasters In 2013

It’s that time of the year again when we recount the notorious foodborne illness outbreaks that had occurred during the year.

It’s that time of the year again when we recount the notorious foodborne illness outbreaks that had occurred during the year. Hopefully this list would serve as a wake-up call for all food servers, food handlers, manufactures, distributors—basically everyone in the food and beverage industry—to always have food safety in mind when packing and preparing your customers’ foods. It’s what makes all the difference.

1. Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak

Everyone has probably heard of the recent Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms poultry, after it caused quite a scare among citizens after being discovered that the Salmonella strain involved was antibiotic resistant. 134 people got sick during the outbreak, which happened as a result of not observing proper food handling procedures and undercooking of contaminated chicken.

2. Norovirus Outbreak at MN Football Banquet

Over 75 people got sick from Norovirus traced to food served at an eat-all-you-can banquet for high-school football players at the Edinburgh USA Golf Course clubhouse restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. 34 of the people who got sick were students and experienced the symptoms two days following the banquet. The catering company who catered the banquet said it never had a norovirus incidence in the past and at any of their other branches.
Norovirus symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics although its symptoms can be addressed with rest and medicine.  

3. Nevada Church Potluck Salmonella Outbreak

140 to 150 people were reported to have been infected by Salmonella infantis during a potluck dinner hosted by the local Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints in Logandale, Nevada in October, according to a report from the Southern Nevada Health District. No specific dish has been identified as the source of the Salmonella strain as no leftovers were saved for evaluation.

4. Shigella Outbreak in Sioux City, Iowa

105 people from Sioux City were infected with Shigella, according to a report from the Siouxland District Health Department, as quoted by Food Safety News. The infection has not been determined by health officials yet.  
Symptoms of Shigella infections include bloody stool, fever, and abdominal pain. The infection clears between five to seven days and is highly contagious.

5. E.Coli Outbreak from Mexican Restaurant in Arizona

94 people became sick with E. coli O157:H7 in July after dining at a branch of Federico’s, a Mexican restaurant chain in Litchfield Park, Arizona, based on data from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, according to a Food Safety News report. According to the report, health officials have found out that contaminated lettuce is the source of the outbreak.

6. OxyElite Pro Supplements Hepatitis Contamination

OxyElite Pro is a wide array of dietary supplement linked to Hepa cases in Hawaii after it has sickened over 56 people and killed one customer using the supplement in October in Hawaii. Shipments of the products were already stopped, however, that didn’t stop the sales and distribution of the products in other sales channels (i.e. online, local stores). As of publication of the news report on the Food Safety News website, the Hawaii State Department of Health is still determining whether an ingredient, contaminant, or a product production mistake has caused the outbreak.

7. Nationwide Cyclospora Outbreak

Perhaps one of the biggest outbreaks last year was one that occurred in the summer: the multi-state Cyclospora outbreak that occurred in 26 states from June 1 to August 29, 2013. According to the CDC over 631 people contracted the parasite-caused foodborne illness. The outbreak was allegedly linked to salad mix and fresh cilantro. Fortunately no one died from the outbreak and only 49 people were hospitalized.    

8. Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend

Hepatitis A cases linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend have sickened over 162 people across 10 states, according to the CDC. 71 of those sickened were hospitalized and fortunately, no one died from the outbreak.

Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend is a brand of frozen berries sold at Costco Wholesale stores and Harris Teeter stores. The company, Townsend Farms, which is based in Fairview, Oregon, had recalled the said product earlier in June but that didn’t stop the foodborne illnesses from spreading. After all, a person infected with Hepa A may not display symptoms for as long as up to two weeks, and is passed through person-to-person contact. Health authorities said that the Hepa A was traced back to the pomegranate seeds included in the berry mix.  

9. Wyoming Norovirus Outbreak

A group of tourists, as well as employees, at Yellowstone National Park got sick from Norovirus last June. Even employees from the neighboring park, the Grand Teton National Park became sick with Norovirus. Overall, 200 people became ill due to the foodborne illness.

10. North Carolina Holiday Inn Salmonella Outbreak

Over 103 people reported signs of contracting Salmonella from food purchased at a Holiday Inn Bordeaux in Fayetteville, North Carolina. According to the Food Safety Report, 6 of the people who experienced Salmonella symptoms were hospitalized, according to Food Safety News.

Guest Post Author:
Cess Padilla is a Food and Beverage Expert at Learn2Serve. She shares that Asian and Italian cuisines are really close to her heart. She looks up to Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay for their ingenuity and yummy creations and is an avid fan of the two kitchen icons’ shows. She also watches Iron Chef for her regular dose of food entertainment and to improve on her cooking skills. Unbeknownst to most of her colleagues, Cess is also a wicked mixologist who can whip out delicious cocktails from scratch. Follow her @foodsafetycess

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families January 31, 2014 3:27 am Reply

    I was a victim of the huge cyclospora outbreak. I got really sick after eating blueberries. It took almost three weeks for everything to subside and to feel normal again.

  2. February 1, 2014 3:40 am Reply

    Hi Christy,

    I am sorry to hear that you suffered from the cyclospora infection and I'm happy to hear you have recovered. It's always recommended to wash the vegetables and fruits really good with a lot of water if you will eat them raw and carefully choose the place where you buy or take them. I hope you are feeling alright and healthy again.

    Thanks for commenting.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *