Food Poisoning Outbreaks Linked to Cereal

Lucky Charms

On the website, more than 3,000 people have reported becoming ill with food poisoning symptoms including nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea after eating Lucky Charms cereal. General Mills hasn’t commented on the complaints of illness or issued a recall for the cereal but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened an investigation.

If FDA investigators determine that some batches of Lucky Charms cereal became contaminated with a foodborne bacteria, it won’t be the first time that packaged cereal has been linked to a food poisoning outbreak.

Cereals can become contaminated if tainted ingredients including spices, nuts, peanut butter, berries, or flour are introduced. Or, bacteria in that manufacturing facility can contaminate the cereal as was the case with three recent Salmonella outbreaks linked to packaged cereals.

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Food Poisoning Outbreaks Linked to Cereal

1998 Malt-O-Meal Toasted Oats Salmonella Outbreak

In 1998, an 11-state Salmonella Agona outbreak linked to Malt-O-Meal sickened 209 people, 47 of whom were hospitalized. The FDA identified contaminated water as the source of the outbreak. The remediation efforts included stripping all surfaces to bare concrete and refinishing them. Ten years later, one of these walls would be opened, unleashing the dormant strain of Salmonella.

2008 Malt-O-Meal Puffed Rice, Puffed Wheat Salmonella Outbreak

Ten years after the Toasted Oats outbreak, another Salmonella outbreak was linked to a different Malt-O-Meal cereal. Using whole genome sequencing, health officials were able to determine that the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agona, was the same as the strain linked to the 1998 outbreak.  During a renovation at the plant, one of the walls that had sealed off a production area after the 1998 outbreak had been opened releasing the dormant strain back into the environment. This outbreak, linked to Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat cereals sickened 28 people in 15 states.

2018 Honey Smacks Salmonella Outbreak

Kelloggs Honey Smacks Cereal

In 2018, a Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak sickened 135 people in 36 states. Thirty-four people were hospitalized.  Kerry Inc. manufactured the cereal for Kellogg’s. Kerry had a Salmonella problem at the plant, according to a warning letter from the FDA. “Between September 29, 2016, and May 16, 2018, you repeatedly found Salmonella throughout your facility, including in cereal production rooms.  During this time period, you had 81 positive Salmonella environmental samples and 32 positive Salmonella vector samples,” the letter stated.

Food Poisoning Lawyers with Experience

If you developed a food poisoning infection after eating contaminated cereal and you would like a free consultation with a food poisoning lawyer, please contact the Pritzker Hageman Food Safety Legal Team. You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or completing the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.

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Cereal Salmonella

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