Kapowsin Meats Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuits - Washington (2015)

In August 2015, the Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) and Public Health Seattle & King County (PHSKC), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (USDA FSIS), announced an outbreak of multidrug resistant Salmonella I 4,[5],12:1:- infections linked to consumption of pork products. Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that were part of the outbreak. As of August 27, 2015, there were 152 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:1:-.  Twenty four people were hospitalized. No deaths were reported. For whom information was available, illness onset ranged from  August 12, 2015 to April 25, 2015, ill people ranged in age from one to ninety years.


The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory conducted antibiotic resistance testing on clinical isolates collected from 10 ill people with one of the outbreak strains. All 10 isolates were multidrug resistant. This included resistance to ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, and tetracycline. Antibiotic resistance may be associated with increased risk of hospitalization, development of a bloodstream infection, or treatment failure in patients.


In interviews, ill people answered questions about foods eaten and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of the 89 people for who information was available, 65 (73%) reported eating pork in the week before becoming ill. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 43% reported eating pork in the week before they were interviewed. On July 31, 2105, USDA-FSIS issued a public health alert because of concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella I 4,[5],12:1:- that were associated with pork products, specifically whole pigs used for roasts.


Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings, identified pork produced by Kapowsin Meats, a Graham, Washington establishment, as the likely source of the outbreak. Laboratory testing of environmental samples collected at Kapowsin Meats by the WDOH confirmed the outbreak strain’s presence in the facility. As a result of the investigation, on August 13, 2015, Kapowsin Meats voluntarily recalled approximately 116,262 pounds of whole pigs that may have been contaminated with Salmonella I 4,[5],12:1:-. Additional sampling by USDA-FSIS revealed positive results for Salmonella I 4,[5],12:1:- on whole pigs for barbeque, associated pork products, and throughout the establishment.  As a result, Kapowsin Meats issued an expanded recall of approximately 523,380 pounds of pork products. 

Marler Clark represented 21 individuals affected by the outbreak, achieving settlements covering medical costs, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.