November 22, 2020

FDA Weighs In On the Newest Romaine E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak

The FDA has weighed in on the newest romaine E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened at least 17 people in 8 states. If Maryland Health Department information is added to that total, there are 22 people sick. But the CDC announcement said 17 are ill because only two of the seven Maryland cases have been definitely linked to the outbreak through whole genome sequencing (WGS).

FDA Weighs In On the Newest Romaine E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

This outbreak took some time to unfold. A cluster of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)  illnesses was first identified in Wisconsin last week. Then, an E. coli outbreak in Maryland was identified.

The CDC and FDA put it all together, announcing the multistate STEC HUS outbreak on November 20, 2019. The outbreak has been associated with Ready Pac Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salad sold at Sam’s Club in Maryland. Romaine lettuce used to make that salad tested tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

FDA traced the supply of the romaine lettuce used to make the Ready Pac product and has found possible farms that may be involved. Those farms are located in Salinas, California. Investigators are being deployed to those farms to determine the source and extent of the contamination.

Lawyer Fred Pritzker

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an E. coli O157:H7 infection or HUS, you can contact food safety attorney Fred Pritzker for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

Yesterday, more products, Missa Bay salads made with the same batch of romaine used in the Ready Pac product, were recalled. They were sold in some of the state where ill persons live, which include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Washington, and Wisconsin. That may explain some of the illnesses in those states, but not all of them in this newest romaine E. coli O57:H7 outbreak.

So what should you do? First, do not eat the recalled Ready Pack Chicken Caesar Salad or the Missa Bay salads that are made with chicken and beef. Second, if you buy romaine lettuce, make sure to wash it thoroughly under running water and dry it with paper towels before you eat it. And third, if you have a member of your family in the high risk group for food poisoning, which includes children, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with a chronic health issue, think about cooking greens before you serve them. That will kill any dangerous pathogens.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include a mild fever, possible vomiting, severe and painful abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is bloody and watery. Some of the patients in this outbreak have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. Symptoms of HUS include pale skin, lethargy, little to no urine output, and small unexplained bruises. If anyone you know has been experiencing these symptoms, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.

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