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Worst Food Poisoning Outbreaks in History

Don’t read this if you like hamburgers.

In a tragic food-poisoning incident back in 1993, four children died. A burger chain called Jack in the Box was serving undercooked burgers that carried E. Coli, infecting over 700 people. In addition to the four who died, another 178 were permanently affected.

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Fast Food Is Really Bad For You

It may seem like there can’t be much that could go wrong with leafy greens, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Taco Bell had a serious case of food poisoning that was tied to their lettuce back in 2006. 71 people were affected, 53 hospitalized, and eight people suffered kidney failure.

It may seem like there can’t be much that could go wrong with leafy greens, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Taco Bell had a serious case of food poisoning that was tied to their lettuce back in 2006. 71 people were affected, 53 hospitalized, and eight people suffered kidney failure.

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Ugh. Spinach.

Everybody always says you need to be eating Spinach, but that wasn’t the case back in 2006. Dole was selling spinach that resulted in large numbers of diarrhea and kidney failures, in addition to three deaths. The FDA warned people daily to stay away from spinach.

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The Most Boring Vegetable

Thought cucumbers were basically just water? Well, you thought wrong. They’re also vessels for salmonella. In 2015, over 900 people were infected with Mexican cucumbers. 200 people were hospitalized. 6 people died.

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Think You Like Peanut Butter?

We all love our Peanut Butter, but it’s possible to get salmonella from it, making that tasty snack just a little bit scary. In 2008, America had its largest food recall ever when there was a massive salmonella outbreak tied to the Peanut Butter Corporation of America. They shipped peanut butter to schools, prisons, and hospitals, resulting in over 700 sick people and 9 deaths. An estimated half of that number were children. Turns out, the facilities were not up to par, so the owners were convicted and the company bankrupted.

We all love our Peanut Butter, but it’s possible to get salmonella from it, making that tasty snack just a little bit scary. In 2008, America had its largest food recall ever when there was a massive salmonella outbreak tied to the Peanut Butter Corporation of America. They shipped peanut butter to schools, prisons and hospitals, resulting in over 700 sick people and nine deaths. An estimated half of that number were children. Turns out, the facilities were not up to par, so the owners were convicted and the company bankrupted.

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An Unsolved Mystery

Chipotle just might be one of the best chain around, but as recently as 2015, it was a scary place to visit. They had a total of about 60 people get sick in two different outbreaks, and no one knows what caused it.

Image via: Facebook.

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A Dangerous Church Potluck

You never know what people may be bringing to your church’s Sunday potluck. In 2015, someone accidentally brought a potato salad that infected 29 people and killed one. It was a small, contained incident, but it was traumatic.

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Bradford Sweet’s Peppermint Lollipops

Over 150 years ago, in 1858, a candy producer accidentally killed 20 people. They served up peppermint lollipops that contained arsenic. The lollipop maker had bought a sugar substitute from a local pharmacist who botched the order. No one was ever convicted, but the laws were tightened.

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Cold Cuts in Canada

In 2007, Canada saw a food poisoning outbreak unlike anything it ever had before. Deli meat packaged by a company called Maple Leaf Foods resulted in 57 cases of listeriosis and 22 deaths.

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German Sprouts

Thanks to an organic farm in Lower Saxony, Germany, thousands of people, mainly Germans, suffered from food poisoning in 2011. The farm had sold sprouts to a number of restaurants. 31 people died.

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Baby Formula in China

In an extremely sad and terrifying incident, thousands of infants were hospitalized. In China, a baby formula manufacturing company used melamine to cut corners, resulting in serious kidney problems in the infants who drank the milk. Almost 300,000 infants were affected, with 6 dying from the poisoning. The repercussions for those who cause the poisoning were extremely severe.

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Tropical Smoothie Strawberries

Tropical Smoothie may be a healthy place to go grab lunch, but it’s not immune to food poisoning. In 2016, they sourced some strawberries from Egypt and hospitalized 56 people.

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Steer Clear of Raw Milk

In 1985, a Listeria outbreak affected 142 people. It took the CDC eight months to track down the source of the problem: Mexican soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk. The results were horrifying. 18 adults and 10 newborns died. There were 20 miscarriages.

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Jalapeño Problems

Hot sauce makes so many foods better, but back in ‘77, it also caused a food poisoning outbreak that affected nearly 60 people. Apparently, Trini & Carmen’s home-canned jalapeño peppers were the problem.

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Can’t Eat That

Cantaloupes are one of the sweetest, best-tasting fruits around. They’re also the source of one of the deadliest Listeria outbreaks in history. In 2011, Jensen Farms distributed 300,000 cantaloupes to major retailers like Walmart. 147 people got sick, one person suffered a miscarriage, and 33 people died. Jensen Farms went bankrupt.

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Don’t Touch That Turkey Sandwich

Turkey sandwiches are one of the most common lunch entrees, but back in 2002, that was a scary thing to do. 27.4 million pounds of food were recalled after a listeria outbreak in New England. In addition to the 46 people who got sick, seven adults died, and there were three stillbirths.

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Forget About Frozen Strawberries

In 1997, your children may not have been able to eat one of their favorite foods. In Calhoun County, Michigan, there were 153 cases of people infected with hepatitis A because of frozen strawberries imported from Mexico. All but two of the incidents were traced to the school system.

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Contaminated Onions

In 2003, a now-closed restaurant chain called Chi Chi’s unknowingly served up contaminated green onions in their salsa and chili con queso. The effects were staggering. Over 650 people were infected and four people died. It was the largest outbreak of Hepatitis A the nation has ever seen.

Image via: Wikipedia.

In 2003, a now-closed restaurant chain called Chi Chi’s unknowingly served up contaminated green onions in their salsa and chili con queso. The effects were staggering. Over 650 people were infected and four people died. It was the largest outbreak of hepatitis A the nation has ever seen.

Image via: Wikipedia.

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Hillfarm Dairy Milk

We know to wash our hands well after handling chicken because of the salmonella, but salmonella is present in many other foods. In 1985, the nation saw the largest outbreak of salmonella yet when 16,000 were infected after drinking raw Hillfarm Dairy Milk. Most of the infected were from Illinois. Nine people died. 

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What’s in a Hot Dog?

What’s in a hot dog? While we’re not really sure what they are, we know they sometimes carry Listeria. From 1989 to 1999, over 100 people got sick from eating hot dogs, resulting in 14 adult deaths and 4 miscarriages. All of the infected hot dogs were traced back to a facility owned by Sara Lee. Sara Lee faced severe criminal charges.

What’s in a Hot Dog? While we’re not really sure what they are, we know they sometimes carry Listeria. From 1989 to 1999, over 100 people got sick by eating Hot Dogs, resulting in 14 adult deaths and 4 miscarriages. All of the infected hot dogs were traced back to a facility owned by Sara Lee. Sara Lee was severely faced criminal charges.

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