December 15, 2019

NY Hard Hit By E.coli Outbreak, Makes Key Find In Investigation

Four people in New York are now part of E.coli outbreak linked to Farm Rich frozen foods, a spokesman from the New York State Department of Health told Food Poisoning Bulletin today.  At least 21 people in 14 other states have also been sickened by the outbreak.

Most of the outbreak case patients are under 21. Eight people have been hospitalized and at least one has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E.coli poisoning that can lead to HUS kidney failure.

The outbreak, which was announced by the CDC last week, began in late December. Public health officials from state health departments, the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been collaborating on the investigation. Using genetic “fingerprints” of E.coli bacteria taken from case patients, they were able to determine that at least two dozen cases in 15 states were part of the same outbreak.

Farm Rich Recall E coliDuring interviews with investigators, all patients said they had eaten frozen foods before becoming ill. Many of them named the Farm Rich brand.  So the New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center Laboratory, ran tests on an open bag of one such product from a patient’s home, Farm Rich mini chicken and cheese quesadillas. They found that the product was contaminated by the same E.coli  as the outbreak strain. The Wadsworth discovery established a food source of the outbreak and prompted a recall of 98 tons of Farm Rich quesadillas, pizza slices, mozzarella bites and cheese steak sandwiches.

The recalled products were sold at Walmart, Kroger and Winn Dixie stores. Consumers who have these products in their freezers should not eat them. The investigation of the outbreak is ongoing.

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