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DHS news release

Oct. 9, 2007

General contact: Tom Towslee, 971-673-0396, 503-559-0652
Technical contact: Dr. William Keene, 971-673-1111

Salmonellosis outbreak traced to Banquet brand pot pies

Oregon consumers are being urged to not eat any Banquet brand pot pies following a large, multi-state outbreak of salmonellosis, state public health official announced today. Banquet brand pot pies are sold in the freezer section at grocery stores and other outlets throughout the nation.

The pot pies have code numbers beginning with "5009" or would have a "P9" code. Consumers are urged to discard the items.

"If you have any of these products in your freezer, we recommend that you throw them out," Dr. William E. Keene, a senior communicable disease epidemiologist at the Oregon Public Health Division. "Anyone who has eaten the product but did not become ill need not take any special action. However, those who currently have severe diarrhea or diarrhea with fever should tell their doctor if they have consumed pot pies within the week before they became sick."

The manufacturer, ConAgra, has suspended production and is instituting a "market hold" on all pot pies produced at their Marshall, Missouri, plant. The "hold" also includes a number of "private label" store brands produced at the same location with the same "5009" code number. A market hold means that retailers are being asked to temporarily suspend all sales and hold product in distribution channels pending further investigation.

Consumers and retailers are encouraged to contact ConAgra (1-866-484-8671) for more information about the market hold or go to the ConAgra Web site.

To date, at least 135 lab-confirmed cases with indistinguishable DNA profiles have been identified from 30 states, including Oregon. At least 20 cases were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. The number of reported cases has been increasing in recent weeks.

"In our state only two cases have been confirmed so far," Keene said "But we estimate that for every confirmed case, there are at least 25 or more other people who became ill."

The source of contamination at the ConAgra facility is currently unknown, but appears to have been ongoing for some months. USDA investigators are currently working at the plant with ConAgra staff.

Salmonella infections can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramping, and sometimes vomiting. Symptoms typically last less than a week, but some individuals, particularly infants, the elderly, and those with immunodeficiencies are at increased risk for severe illness. Antibiotic therapy is of no value for most patients, and can lead to prolonged excretion of the organism, increasing the risk of person-to-person spread.

Salmonella bacteria are widely distributed among animals and in the environment. Poultry is very often contaminated, and other outbreaks have been traced to produce, meat, and unpasteurized milk and cheese. Salmonella in food can be killed by thorough cooking, but they can survive undercooking or uneven cooking, as may happen in some microwave ovens.

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