Supermarket workers clear shelves of potentially contaminated cereal

NEW YORK -- A salmonella outbreak stretching from coast to coast has been linked to breakfast cereal. Now, Kellogg's has recalled packages of Honey Smacks.

So far, 73 people have become sick in 31 states and 24 have been treated in hospitals.

Supermarket workers were busy Friday clearing the shelves of potentially contaminated cereal. Kellogg's is recalling two sizes of Honey Smacks cereal boxes with 'best used by' dates of June 14, 2018 through June 14, 2019.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said consumers should throw out all recalled cereal -- opened or unopened -- or return it to the store for a refund. The CDC also recommends washing any containers that might have stored Honey Smacks.

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Honey Smacks cereal

Kellogg Co.

The outbreak has sickened people from as young as less than a year to 87 years old.

Salmonella can live in almost any type of food. Outbreaks earlier this year were in fruit and eggs. But the bacteria are hardy and can survive in dry environments.

"A cereal factory plus the factories that make ingredients for cereals are typically dry factories where it is possible for salmonella to survive but very difficult to be found by the regular food safety practices," said Martin Wiedmann, a food scientist.

Wiedmann believes new, sophisticated techniques like DNA fingerprinting allow investigators to identify and link specific strains of bacteria, giving them a head start on detecting and containing outbreaks.

"We've recently really started to up our game," he said. "Today we are probably about 25 to 100 times better detecting foodborne disease outbreaks than we were even 20 years ago."

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook