(CNN) – A salmonella outbreak that has caused illness in 73 people across 31 states is linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Just before the agency announced the outbreak, the Kellogg Co. announced a recall of 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce packages of the cereal with a "best if used by" date from June 14, 2018, through June 14, 2019, according to a statement.
Twenty-four of the sick patients have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, according to the CDC. New York has reported the highest number of cases — seven — while California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have each reported five cases. The other states involved in the outbreak have reported between one and four related illnesses.
Health officials have identified Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal as the likely source of the outbreak, based on epidemiological evidence. As part of the outbreak investigation, 39 of the patients who became ill have been interviewed, and 30 reported eating cold cereal in the week before their symptoms began. Fourteen of them specifically said they ate Honey Smacks.
The earliest reported symptoms in this outbreak began March 3, according to the CDC. Symptoms of salmonella include fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain that begins 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria. Most people recover in four to seven days.
After the CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration contacted Kellogg’s about the reported illness, the company said it immediately launched an investigation with the third-party manufacturer that produces the cereal.
"The FDA’s staff has initiated an inspection at the facility that manufactures Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and is working quickly with the company to collect additional information," the agency said in a statement. This is part of the ongoing investigation as the CDC, the FDA, state and local health officials work together in an effort to identify the source of the contamination.
The UPC code, which can be found on the bottom of the box, for the recalled 15.3-ounce packages is 38000 39103. The recalled 23-ounce packages have a UPC code of 38000 14810. They were sold by retailers in the United States, including Guam and Saipan, and in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, the Caribbean and Tahiti.
Retailers have been advised not to sell the recalled cereal, and consumers should throw away or return any recalled cereal without eating it.