February 17, 2020

Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Ends With 10 Sick

The Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp E. coli O157:H7 outbreak is over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after sickening 10 people in 5 states and hospitalizing 4. One patient developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). That is an increase of two more patients in two more states from the latest outbreak update that was released on December 9, 2019. The two new patients live in Georgia and Illinois.

Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Ends With 10 Sick

The case count by state is: Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Minnesotas (4), North Dakota (1), and Wisconsin (3). Illness onset dates ranged from November 5, 2019 to November 16, 2019. The patient age range is from 21 to 92. Four of 10 patients were hospitalized, and one person developed HUS. No deaths were reported.

The contaminated Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kits that made people sick in this outbreak are past their shelf-life dates and should no longer be available for consumers to purchase. The salads had best-before dates up to and including December 7, 2019.

This salad also sickened people in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada identified 25 people in 7 provinces sick in that country with E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped  salad kits. The salads were recalled in Canada, but not in the United States.

This outbreak was caused by a different strain of E. coli O157:H7 than the large outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region. But the FDA states that a common grower provided lettuce in this outbreak, the large outbreak, and an outbreak in Seattle associated with Evergreen restaurants. That grower has not been named in any of the outbreak reports.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

You can contact Minneapolis food safety attorney Fred Pritzker for help if you were sickened in this E. coli O157:H7 outbreak by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

PulseNet performed whole genome sequencing (WGS) on isolates taken from patents sickened in this Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp E. coli O157:H7 outbreak who live in the U.S. and in Canada. That test showed that bacteria isolated from ill persons in both countries were closely related genetically. That means people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection.

State and local public health officials interviewed ill people to discover what they ate the week before they got sick. Of the 10 patients interviewed, all said they ate leafy greens. Eight of the patients specifically said they ate or maybe ate a Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kit.

Romaine lettuce was one of the ingredients in the salad kit, but the investigation was not able to determine if romaine was the contaminated ingredient, according to the CDC, even though the FDA states this outbreak is one of three linked to romaine lettuce that the government is investigating.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include a mild fever, vomiting, painful and severe stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is bloody. Symptoms of HUS include little or no urine output, bleeding from the nose and mouth, easy bruising, pale skin, and lethargy.

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