On May 12, 2004, the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory identified a cluster of five patients infected with a genetically indistinguishable strain of Salmonella Enteritidis through pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing. The five patients were from four Oregon counties and had onsets of illness ranging from February-April, 2004.
After the discovery of the matching strain through PFGE, the five Oregon patients were interviewed. All reported consuming Kirkland Signature brand raw almonds, purchased at Costco stores, and produced and distributed by Paramount Farms, before becoming ill. A case-control study was conducted, and Oregon health officials concluded that Paramount Farms almonds were the definitive source of the outbreak.
Further investigation by Oregon health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other state public health agencies resulted in the documentation of at least 29 patients in 12 states and Canada with matching Salmonella Enteritidis isolates dating as far back as September, 2003. As a result, Paramount Farms recalled roughly 18 million pounds of raw almonds.
In addition to epidemiologic evidence that confirmed almonds as the source of the outbreak, an environmental investigation revealed Salmonella to be present on two-huller-shellers used to shell almonds during the period the contaminated almonds were produced.
Marler Clark represented 17 individuals who became ill with Salmonella infections after eating raw almonds in claims against Paramount Farms. The claims were resolved in early 2006.
Read more about the Paramount Farms almonds Salmonella outbreak in the News Archives.