Salmonella Outbreak Linked to a Chain Coffee Store Sandwich

This case study explores a potential salmonella outbreak linked to a sandwich from a popular coffee chain, resulting in severe gastrointestinal symptoms in three individuals.

ByZach Barreto


Published on February 12, 2024

Young couple eating sandwiches

Case Overview

This case study delves into an incident involving three individuals who fell ill after consuming a sandwich from a well-known coffee chain. The symptoms included severe vomiting and diarrhea, prompting all three to seek emergency medical attention. One individual's condition escalated to colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), necessitating multiple surgeries and resulting in chronic diarrhea.

The allegation is that the sandwich was contaminated with salmonella. An expert in food handling and safety was engaged to review the case details and determine if the sandwich could indeed have been the source of the salmonella infection.

Questions to the Food Safety expert and their responses


Please describe your experience and background in food handling and safety.

I am an Associate Professor of Practice in Food Safety and Food Engineering at a prominent university where I've been teaching undergraduate and graduate-level classes since 2008.

My areas of expertise include food microbiology, food safety, food engineering, food quality, and hygienic design. I have extensive knowledge of USDA-FSIS and FDA regulations for safe food production. I'm familiar with various food matrices and processes including beef, pork, poultry, and ready-to-eat meats.


Briefly, what factors would you consider to determine whether the sandwich was the source of salmonella?

To ascertain if the sandwich was indeed the source of salmonella, several factors need to be considered. Firstly, it's crucial to identify how and where the sandwich or its ingredients originated, were assembled, or produced. Secondly, it's important to know whether the plant that produced the sandwich was inspected by FSIS.

Additionally, records pertaining to raw materials received, Certificate of Analysis (COA), production, sanitation, SSOPs should be reviewed for any possible deviations or violations. Lastly, reviewing medical records to verify if tests were conducted to confirm the microorganism causing the foodborne illness and if the symptoms align with those expected from the pathogen is also essential.


Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If yes, please elaborate.

Yes, I have reviewed several similar cases involving products and investigation of potential vehicles and foods that were likely the source of illness affecting multiple people.

These cases required thorough examination of production processes, sanitation protocols, and regulatory compliance to identify any lapses that could have led to contamination.

About the expert

This expert boasts extensive experience in food science and safety, holding a BS in Food Engineering and both an MS and PhD in Food Science. They hold multiple certifications including Preventive Controls Qualified Individual and Food Protection Manager, underlining their comprehensive knowledge of food safety protocols. Currently serving as an Assistant Professor at a university in Texas, they have authored over 40 publications and are active members of several professional societies, including the American Meat Science Association and the American Society for Microbiology.

Expert headshot



About the author

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto is a distinguished professional in the legal industry, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Research at the Expert Institute. With a deep understanding of a broad range of legal practice areas, Zach's expertise encompasses personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, defective products, and many other sectors. His skills are particularly evident in handling complex litigation matters, including high-profile cases like the Opioids litigation, NFL Concussion Litigation, California Wildfires, 3M earplugs, Elmiron, Transvaginal Mesh, NFL Concussion Litigation, Roundup, Camp Lejeune, Hernia Mesh, IVC filters, Paraquat, Paragard, Talcum Powder, Zantac, and many others.

Under his leadership, the Expert Institute’s research team has expanded impressively from a single member to a robust team of 100 professionals over the last decade. This growth reflects his ability to navigate the intricate and demanding landscape of legal research and expert recruitment effectively. Zach has been instrumental in working on nationally significant litigation matters, including cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, toxic chemical exposure, and wrongful death, among others.

At the Expert Institute, Zach is responsible for managing all aspects of the research department and developing strategic institutional relationships. He plays a key role in equipping attorneys for success through expert consulting, case management, strategic research, and expert due diligence provided by the Institute’s cloud-based legal services platform, Expert iQ.

Educationally, Zach holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and European History from Vanderbilt University.

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