This article takes a look back at the foodborne outbreaks that occurred in 2023. Currently, 27 outbreaks have occurred involving Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Hepatitis A, Cyclospora, Cryptosporidium, natural toxins, and lead. This resulted in 1,076 reports of illness from the consumption of 14 known product types and 11 unknown product types. According to public health officials, these numbers are severely underreported. Many illnesses go unrecognized as being linked to a contaminated food. The table below provides a brief overview of the outbreaks reported by FDA, USDA FSIS, and CDC. Highlights are also provided for outbreaks having known product sources.
Foodborne Outbreaks Occurring in 2023
|Hepatitis A Virus
|Raw Cookie Dough
|Pico de Gallo
|Salmonella Paratyphi B
|E. coli O157:H7
|E. coli O26
|E. coli O157:H7
|Watermelon and Cantaloupe
|E. coli O121:H19
|Apple Cinnamon Puree
|Elevated Lead Levels
|E. coli O103
|Peaches, Plums, Nectarines
|Salmonella Sundsvall & Oranienburg
|Not Identified L.
February – Leafy greens were epidemiologically linked to nineteen illnesses involving L. monocytogenes occurring across 16 states. However, there was not enough data to identify a specific type or producer of the leafy greens.
March – Frozen organic strawberries sourced from farms located in Baja California, Mexico were linked to ten illnesses from hepatitis A virus. This outbreak strain was genetically identical to a previously isolated strain from fresh organic strawberries grown in Baja California, Mexico implicated in an outbreak in 2022.
March – Raw flour contaminated with Salmonella Infantis was linked to an outbreak that caused fourteen illnesses. Seven of the reported ill said they had consumed raw dough or batter prior to symptom onset.
April – Morel mushrooms served raw or lightly cooked at a sushi restaurant in Montana caused fifty one illnesses and two deaths. Left over mushrooms tested were found to be true morels and not false morels that contain the toxin gyromitrin. However, documented cases of similar illness have been reported due to low levels of naturally occurring heat-labile hydrazinic toxins found in the raw morels.
May – Broccoli caused an outbreak resulting in 20 illnesses from Cyclospora cayetanensis, however, likely
due to the short product shelf life, an advisory was never issued.
May – Raw cookie dough sold at a national retailer of take and bake pizzas was linked to an outbreak that caused twenty six illnesses resulting from Salmonella Enteritidis. Fifteen of the ill reported eating raw cookie dough from the retailer a week prior to when they got sick.
May – Ground beef was linked to an outbreak causing twenty six illnesses from Salmonella Typhimurium. Some of the ill people reported eating undercooked ground beef.
June – Pico de Gallo caused an outbreak that was linked to thirty seven illnesses resulting from Salmonella Paratyphi B. An advisory was never issued, likely due to the short shelf life of the product.
July – Ground beef was epidemiologically linked to eighteen illnesses caused by Salmonella Saintpaul. However, there was not enough data to identify a common source of the ground beef.
August – Ice cream contaminated with L. monocytogenes was linked to two cases of listeriosis. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) performed on the strains found in product and several environmental samples taken from the production facility indicated a match to the outbreak strain of L. monocytogenes.
August – Ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 was suspected to be involved in an outbreak, however a USDA-FSIS public health alert was not issued.
September – Watermelon and cantaloupe caused an outbreak resulting in eleven illnesses from
Salmonella Newport, however an advisory was never issued likely due to the short product shelf life.
October – Diced onions caused an outbreak resulting in eighty illnesses from Salmonella Thompson. Three water and three environmental samples collected from the farm that supplied the contaminated onions tested positive and matched the outbreak strain as determined by WGS.
November – Apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches were recalled after reports of acute lead exposure in multiple children led to an investigation and finding of extremely high concentrations of lead in multiple product lots. Since only products containing cinnamon had elevated lead levels, FDA’s leading hypothesis in the ongoing investigation is that cinnamon used in the recalled pouches is the likely source of contamination.
November – Peaches, plums, nectarines (i.e. stone fruit) were epidemiologically linked to eleven illnesses involving L. monocytogenes. Subsequent sampling and testing of 2lb bagged peaches from the supplier were found positive and linked with WGS to outbreak illnesses occurring as far back as August 2018.
November – Cantaloupe have been linked to the largest outbreak of the year, resulting in 230 illnesses and three deaths from Salmonella Sundsvall & Oranienburg infection. Additionally, 129 illnesses and five deaths reported by Canadian health officials have been linked to this outbreak.