Senor Felix Shigella Outbreak
An outbreak of shigellosis in Washington and six other Western states stemming from a contaminated Mexican-style dip developed into a major epidemic of food-borne illness in 2000.
More than 335 people in Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona and Alaska had confirmed or suspected cases of the bacterial illness, characterized by severe diarrhea, nausea, fever and stomach cramps. At least 122 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported in Washington, including 76 in King County. As many as 32 other cases statewide were suspected.
On January 5, 2000, Public Health – Seattle & King County issued a notice to Washington residents that three people had been confirmed ill with Shigella infections after eating five-layer dip manufactured by Senor Felix Gourmet Mexican Foods and sold under several brand names. Two other cases were pending confirmation in Washington, and more illnesses had been reported in California and Oregon.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a nationwide warning regarding the contaminated dip on January 27, 2000, and announced that 49 cases of Shigellosis associated with the consumption of Senor Felix dips had been reported in California, Oregon, and Washington; five patients had been hospitalized.
Senor Felix recalled its entire inventory of bean dip, which had been sold under four brand names: Senor Felix’s Five Layered Party Dip, Delicioso 5 Layer Dip, Trader Joe’s Five Layered Fiesta Dip, and The Carryout Café Mexican Fiesta Party Dip 5 Layer.
Health officials ultimately identified 406 people with Shigella infections who had eaten the dip in the week prior to illness. Cases were reported in ten states. An environmental investigation of the processing facility revealed numerous problems with manufacturing practices and quality control at the Senor Felix facility.