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Sushi King Salmonella Outbreak

In February of 2006, a large outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium was identified among people who had eaten at the Bentonville, Arkansas, Sushi King restaurant. The Benton County Health Unit, the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a joint investigation into the outbreak, confirming 63 cases and identifying 98 probable cases of Salmonella Typhimurium that were epidemiologically linked to Sushi King. At least five people were hospitalized.

An outbreak investigation at Sushi King revealed unsafe food handling practices and temperature abuse at the facility. Other errors noted included improper sanitation, improper storage, inadequate hand washing, and temperature abuse. In addition, 8 of the 9 Sushi King employees submitted stool specimens for laboratory analysis. Of the 8 specimens, 5 specimens tested positive for Salmonella Typhimurium.

The outbreak investigators identified imitation crab meat as the source of the Salmonella outbreak. Although investigators did not reach a conclusion as to how the Salmonella bacteria got into the restaurant, improper food storage temperatures, ill food handlers, and improper food handling procedures were considered plausible means for the bacteria to multiply and sicken so many individuals.

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