December 14, 2019

Top 10 Food Poisoning Outbreaks of 2017: Number 6 I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak

The E. coli O157:H7 – HUS outbreak linked to recalled I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter products was the sixth largest food poisoning outbreak of 2017. That outbreak sickened 32 people in 12 states, many of them children. Twelve people were hospitalized, and nine developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter

Eighty-one percent of patients in this outbreak were under the age of 18, mostly because those products were used as peanut butter substitutes in schools and daycare enters. The median patient age was 9. No deaths were reported in this outbreak.

The patients lived in Washington state, Oregon, California, Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Illness onset dates ranged from January 4, 2017 to April 18, 2017.

Lawyer Fred Pritzker

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with food poisoning, you can contact attorney Fred Pritzker for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

Food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker said, “No child should get sick because they ate a snack at school. There should be no E. coli bacteria in ready-to-eat foods. Period.”

The CDC used the PulseNet system to identify patients who were part of this outbreak. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) done on isolates taken from patients showed they were closely related genetically. The product was tested, and STEC O157:H7 was found in opened containers of the products taken from the homes of ill persons. In addition, California officials found the outbreak strain of bacteria in unopened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter from retail stores.

All varieties of I.M. Healthy Soynut Butters, I.M. Healthy Granola Products, Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanie Butter, and 2020 Lifestyle Yogurt Peanut Crunch Bars were eventually recalled because of this outbreak. The inspection at the Dixie Dew Products facility, were the soy nut butter was produced, found serious food safety issues.

At the facility, inspectors found that forklifts were moving throughout the facility and were never cleaned. The hot water tank for employee hand washing was broken for two years. And there was no control of foot traffic in and out of the processing room.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea that may be bloody or watery, painful abdominal cramps, and a mild fever. Anyone who has eaten any of these recalled products and has been experiencing these symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately.

If an E. coli infection happens in a child, or if the infection is improperly treated with antibiotics, it can progress to hemolytic uremic syndrome. The symptoms of HUS include little or no urine output, easy bruising, a skin rash, lethargy, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should go to a hospital immediately.

Pritzker Hageman law firm presents and helps people who have been sickened by contaminated food such as the recalled I.M. Healthy products. We get answers, justice for our clients, and compensation for those who have been injured through our work. Our lawyers represent families of children sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against retailers, grocery stores, food processors, restaurants, daycare centers, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker and his team recently won $7.5 million for young client whose kidneys failed because of hemolytic uremic syndrome after an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Please note that class action lawsuits are usually not appropriate for outbreak victims because these types of cases are very unique.

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