The website iwaspoisoned.com, credited with helping to identify several high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks in recent years, has possibly done it again.
During the past several days, hundreds of people have complained about stomach aches, vomiting and diarrhea after eating Lucky Charms, one of General Mills’ most popular cereals.
The complaints have come from consumers in states across the country and some of the consumers say that their bouts of illness have lasted weeks.
As of the posting of this article, there have been no official releases from General Mills, the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the complaints.
Cereals have been contaminated with harmful foodborne pathogens in the past. In 2018, a Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak traced to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks sickened 135 people in 36 states. An investigation by the FDA, working with state agencies and the CDC, revealed the outbreak strain of Salmonella was present in samples of cereal from patients’ homes, unopened packages, and the third-party production plant that made the Honey Smacks for Kellogg.
Also in 2018, Quaker Oats Co., a subsidiary of PepsiCo Inc., recalled Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch cereal from Target stores in three states after company tests showed the potential presence of Salmonella.
iwaspoisoned.com has public health department subscribers in 45 U.S. states. On the world level, public health departments from Singapore, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany subscribe to the iwaspoisoned.com alert service.
An estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness are contracted in the United States every year, causing about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In some instances, the source is well known, such as a batch of tainted ground beef that infected 209 people with E. coli in 2019. But 80 percent of food poisoning cases are of unknown origin, making it impossible to inform consumers of hazardous food items.
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