While conducting routine surveillance, Pennsylvania Department of Health personnel noted an increase in reported Salmonella Group D infections occurring in state residents. Salmonella is a reportable disease in Pennsylvania and laboratories throughout the state are asked to submit isolates to the PDOH Public Health Laboratory for serotyping.
The number of reported Salmonella Group D cases continued to climb. Hypothesis generating interviews with case patients implicated food prepared and purchased at Sheetz convenience stores in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The association between Salmonella and Sheetz had not been seen in cases reported in previous months. Cases indicated that a variety of Sheetz menu items had been consumed in the 72 hours before symptom onset. Produce appeared to be a common ingredient of the foods consumed. In particular, many of the ill individuals said they had eaten lettuce and/or tomatoes as part of sandwiches and salads prepared at Sheetz deli counters.
The company alerted Coronet Foods, a Wheeling, West Virginia based company, that Coronet supplied produce might be contaminated with Salmonella. The FDA began working with Sheetz and Coronet Foods on a product trace back.
Preliminary data suggest that as many as 564 confirmed cases of salmonellosis associated with consumption of contaminated tomatoes were reported in five states, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. Seventy percent were associated with tomatoes in food prepared at Sheetz convenience stores.