February 26, 2024

Four E. coli Outbreaks in 2021 Sickened 63 People; Two Were Solved

Four E coli outbreaks in 2021 sickened 63 people and hospitalized 26, according to the CDC. Eight of those patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is a complication of that infection. Two of those outbreaks were linked to a specific brand. One was linked to a product, and the fourth was not solved. One of these outbreaks is ongoing.


Simple Truth Power Greens E. coli O157:H7 outbreak

Ten people in four states are currently sick in this outbreak that is associated with Simple Truth and Nature’s Basket Organic Power Greens. The patient case count is: Alaska (2), Ohio (1), Oregon (1), and Washington (6). The patient age range is from 26 to 79 with a median age of 59. The product contains organic spinach, mizuna, kale, and chard. A recall has not been issued because the product is past its shelf life, however, some patients used these products to make smoothies, so some may be in consumers’ home freezers. The products in question have best by dates through December 20, 2021.

Four have been hospitalized, and one person has developed HUS. Patients told investigators that they ate those two products before they got sick, and shopper records showed they bought those items.

Josie’s Organics Baby Spinach E. coli O157:H7 outbreak

In this outbreak, at least 15 people in ten states were sickened. Four people were hospitalized, and three developed HUS. The patient case count was: California (1), Indiana (4), Iowa (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (2), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), and South Dakota (2). Illness onset dates ranged from October 13, 2021 to November 8, 2021. Epidemiologic and lab data showed that the prepackaged spinach with a “best by” date of October 23, 2021 made people sick.

Officials in Minnesota found the outbreak strain in a package of leftover Jose’s Organics baby spinach taken from an ill persons home. Traceback led to a small number of farms in two different areas, but those farms were not named.

Cake Mix E. coli O121 outbreak

This outbreak sickened at least 16 people in 12 states. Most of those sickened said they tasted or ate raw batter made with a cake mix before they got sick. The patient case count by state was: Illinois (2), Indiana (1), Iowa (2), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Nebraska (2), Ohio (2), Oregon (1), South Carolina (1), Utah (1), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). Seven people were hospitalized and one person developed HUS. The patient age range is from 2 to 73 years, with a median age of 13.

The number of children sickened is fairly typical for an outbreak linked to this type of product, since children like to eat raw cake batter and cookie dough. It’s important that parents limit this behavior because this product has been contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.

While investigators said that a “common brand” of cake mix made people sick, they did not identify that brand.

E. coli outbreak with unknown food source

This outbreak sickened at least 22 people in 7 states. Eleven of those patients were hospitalized, three developed HUS, and one person died. In interviews, patients told investigators that they ate “a variety of food items, including leafy greens, broccoli, cucumbers, and strawberries.” But none of those items were reported significantly more by sick people when compared to healthy people in the FoodNet population survey. However, this outbreak strain was previously linked to various sources including romaine lettuce and recreational water.

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