September 18, 2019

Farm Rich E. coli Outbreak Sickened 35

Farm-Rich-Mozzarella-Bites-One year ago, an E. coli outbreak linked to Farm Rich frozen products was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 19-state outbreak,  the seventh-largest, multi-state food poisoning outbreak of 2013, sickened 35 people, most of them under the age of 21.

A number of Farm Rich products were recalled in association with the outbreak including Mozzarella Bites, Mini Pizza Slices, Mini Quesadillas and Philly Cheese Steaks which were all distributed nationwide. Retailers that sold the products included: Alco, Food Lion, Food City, Price Chopper Ralph’s, Safeway, Schnuck’s, Supervalu, Target, and Winn Dixie. Of the 10 million pounds products recalled, about 300,000 pounds were sold to schools.

About 82 percent of those infected with the E.coli outbreak strain were 21 or younger. The outbreak called attention to two important food safety issues: processed foods can be contaminated with bacteria and the kill step role of the consumer. Many pre-packaged frozen foods require thorough cooking, before they are safe to eat, not just thawing or warming. Particular attention should be paid to foods that can’t be stirred, such as pizza, burgers and snack food items, which can be tricky to heat thoroughly and evenly in a microwave. When cooking foods in the microwave, it’s best to know the wattage and follow directions carefully. This information is usually on the top or side of the door.

Just under a third of those sickened, about 31 percent, were hospitalized including two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious, sometimes life-threatening condition that develops after some E.coli infections.

Ohio and New York were hardest hit by the outbreak with six and four cases respectively. Total cases by state were: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (1), Colorado (1), Florida (2), Illinois (2), Indiana (2), Michigan (3), Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), New York (4), Ohio (6), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (3), Utah (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2).

 

Comments

  1. It is important to remember that freezing can kill some things, but others produce a toxin which can not be killed by any means. Thanks for calling attention to the fact that frozen food must be prepared like other foods after it is thawed.

    • Linda Larsen says

      That is one of the most important aspects of food safety. Even if a contaminated food is cooked to a safe temperature, those toxins can still make you sick. And that’s one of the reasons you should never, ever partially cook meat and refrigerate or freeze it and finish cooking at a later time. Thanks, Gene.

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