What’s Really Happening With Those Cucumber Recalls

August and September were flooded with stories of a cucumber recall that left hundreds of people sick in 30 states and took four lives. The culprit was salmonella bacteria, which though usually linked to chicken, pork, and eggs can also be found in vegetables.  The United States saw yet another one of these outbreaks in late summer and steps were immediately taken to discover the source of the problem and getting the contaminated product off the shelves.

Potential Sources

Beginning on August 1, 2015 Custom Produce Sales of Parlier, CA voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the Fat Boy label. These packages included 24’s Fat Boy Label, Super Select Fat Boy label, 6-Count Fat Boy Label, 5# Fat Boy label, and the possible buy codes 93968, 94550, 94522, 94513, and 93991. Unlabeled cucumbers in reusable black containers were also part of this recall.

In a similar action San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce recalled its Limited Edition cucumbers imported from Mexico on September 4 and embarked on a comprehensive evaluation of its operations.  Part of this effort will involve the company taking a close look at the cleaning and packaging operations of its Baja facility. Custom Produce’s Fat Boy cucumbers were also produced in Baja.

These companies are doing this as they are helping the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) track down the source of the multi-state salmonella outbreak. This outbreak swept through 30 states, put 70 people in the hospital, and even killed 4. Custom Produce distributed its cucumbers to California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The cucumbers from Andrews & Williamson were distributed in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

Consumer Support

Both of these companies are reaching out anyone who might have purchased these products and strongly urging them to not consume the cucumbers, and return or dispose of then. They have also widely publicized their phone numbers and websites for anyone who might have questions or concerns. Unfortunately, illnesses have continues even after the recalls were announced due to the 14-day shelf life of cucumbers and the gap between a person initially getting sick then the illness getting reported.  The potential reach of such an outbreak was demonstrated when Maryland was added to the list of states with people affected by this illness in early October.


Due to concern for the health and welfare of their customers, both companies are fully cooperating with the proper authorities to trace the source of this outbreak and see if there is anything they can do differently to prevent this from happening again.  Situation like this also take a toll on a company’s reputation and to regain the trust of consumers is no small feat.  By working with health authorities these distributors are doing what is necessary for the customers but also for themselves.  And though a significant amount of produce does come in from Mexico distributors are emphasizing that these items are as safe as items grown in the United States.

Were you affected by the cucumber recall?