Food & Drink

FDA now saying throw out all Kellogg's cereal brand linked to salmonella outbreak

The FDA said Friday it wants you to toss out all Kellogg's Honey Smacks, a day after the giant Kellogg issued a massive recall of Honey Smacks after the CDC linked it to a 31-state salmonella outbreak.

Honey Smacks outside the best by dates recalled Thursday could be contaminated with salmonella, the FDA said

"The FDA is advising consumers to not eat and to discard any Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal," Friday's FDA outbreak update said. "This is regardless of size or 'best if used by' dates."

The Centers for Disease Control says this salmonella outbreak already has sickened 73 people in 31 states. Of those 73, 24 are known to be hospitalized. That's 32.9 percent, a much higher hospitalization rate than average for salmonella.

"Kellogg’s Honey Smacks sweetened puffed wheat cereal are a likely source of this outbreak," a Thursday night FDA outbreak investigation update says.

The CDC's outbreak update says that of the 39 people with salmonella interviewed, 30 reported eating cold cereal before being ill and 14 specifically recalled eating Kellogg's Honey Smacks. No other cereal or food product was mentioned as often.

The original recall covered 15.3-ounce boxes of Honey Smacks with UPC code 3800039103 and 23-ounce boxes with UPC code 380004810, both with best by dates between June 14, 2018, and June 14, 2019.

The smaller boxes are sold in the United States, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Aruba, Curacao, Saint Maarten, the Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Panama, Guam, Tahiti and Saipan. The larger, "Family Size" boxes are sold only in the United States.

Kellogg's company-written, FDA-posted recall notice said it's investigating the third party company that actually makes Honey Smacks. The FDA says it's in that facility also. Because such food producers usually make similar foods for several companies, more recalls of food made in that facility would not be a surprise.

In fact, the caution in another part of the CDC outbreak update seems to be for more than just Kellogg's Honey Smacks: "If you store cereal in a container without the packaging and don't remember the brand or type, throw it away. Thoroughly wash the container with warm, soapy water before using it again to remove harmful germs that could contaminate other food."

The 31 states with ill people are, in alphabetical order: Alabama (two), Arizona (one), California (five), Connecticut (three), Georgia (two), Illinois (one), Indiana (three), Kentucky (one), Louisiana (two), Massachusetts (five), Maryland (one), Michigan (four), Mississippi (one), Montana (one), New Hampshire (one), New Jersey (three), New York (seven), North Carolina (three), Ohio (one), Oklahoma (two), Oregon (one), Pennsylvania (five), Rhode Island (two), South Carolina (one), Tennessee (one), Texas (two), Utah (one), Virginia (four), Washington (three), Wisconsin (one) and West Virginia (three).

Salmonella is one of the most common food-borne illnesses, hitting 1.2 million people per year, according to the CDC. About 2 percent of those infected have to be hospitalized. Very rarely is it fatal, but the people most vulnerable to the worst effects are those under the age of 5 and senior citizens.

"Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection," according to the CDC. "The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized."

Anyone with the recalled Honey Smacks should throw the cereal out and contact Kellogg for a full refund at 800-962-1413, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern time, and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern time.