June 6, 2020

FDA Weighs in on Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp E. coli Outbreak

The FDA is weighing in on the Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened 10 people in 5 states. Four people were hospitalized and one patient developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. This salad mix also made 25 people sick in Canada, where the Fresh Express product was recalled. There was no recall issued in the U.S.

FDA Weighs in on Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp E. coli Outbreak

The contaminated Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped salad kits that made people sick are “likely no longer available on the market,” according to the FDA statement. The outbreak has ended as of January 15, 2020 after sickening 1 person in Georgia, Illinois, and North Dakota; three in Wisconsin; and four in Minnesota.

Once again, the FDA states that this outbreak, the outbreak associated with Evergreen restaurants in Seattle, and the large multi-state outbreak linked to romaine from Salinas all shared a common romaine lettuce supplier with ranches in Salinas, California. The romaine lettuce from this grower doesn’t explain all of the illnesses in the three outbreaks.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

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FDA, CDC, and California partners investigated ranches that were used by the common grower. There was no romaine lettuce on the ground and the fields had been plowed by the time they started the investigation. Investigators collected water, soil, and compost samples and sent them to the lab. Sample results came back negative for the three outbreak strains of E. coli. But investigators did find a strain of E. coli that was not related to any of the illnesses and is of low risk to people.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include a mild fever, vomiting, severe and painful abdominal and stomach cramping, and diarrhea that is bloody and watery. Hemolytic uremic syndrome can develop as a complication of a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection , especially in children under the age of 5. Symptoms of HUS include little urine output, easy bruising, lethargy, pale skin, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Anyone who is experiencing any of these symptoms should see a doctor.

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