E Coli Contamination Forces Recall Of Ready-Made Products
November 11, 2013

E Coli Contamination Forces Recall Of Ready-Made Products

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A Richmond, California gourmet food company is recalling more than 180,000 pounds of ready-to-eat products containing chicken due to a high risk of E. coli contamination, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA said that Glass Onion Catering, which produces ready-made salads and sandwich wraps, has shipped the potentially contaminated food products to distribution centers in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. It said that products shipped to these states with the inspection marks “P-34221” may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7.

The products, which were produced between September 23 and November 6, 2013 have so far been linked to 15 illnesses of 26 seen in recent weeks. The USDA warns that all products bearing the “P-34221” inspection mark should be destroyed to protect consumers from developing the dangerous infection.

E. coli 0157:H7 is dangerous and potentially fatal. It can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps from two to eight days after exposure to the bacterium. While most people recover within a week, some may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure that mostly afflicts children under five and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output. Persons with these symptoms should seek medical help immediately.

The foods recalled include products with names bearing “delish” and “atherstone Fine Foods,” as well as “super fresh Foods” and “Trader Joe’s.” For a full list of the products recalled please visit the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website.

The FSIS first began monitoring a cluster of E. coli 0157:H7 on October 29, 2013 and was subsequently notified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 6 that California authorities had reported cases of patients falling ill to E. coli after consuming pre-packaged salads containing grilled chicken.

FSIS launched a probe and with the assistance of the CDC, FDA, California Department of Public Health and other state health departments, determined that there was a link between the grilled chicken and the cluster of illnesses. The illness onset dates ranged from Sept. 29 to Oct. 6 and after a traceback investigation was initiated, the trail led to Glass Onion Catering.

FSIS plans to continue its investigation into the outbreak and recall and will work with the FDA to find the exact source of the contamination. FSIS will also continue to work with the FDA, CDC and public health officials to provide updated information as needed.

Interestingly, this is a rare contamination to grilled chicken, as E. coli 0157:H7, historically, is more closely associated to foods such as ground beef, unpasteurized milk and some fruits and vegetables.