E coli cases prompt warning on salad products

Oct 3, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers against eating certain prepackaged Dole salad products after they were linked to 11 cases of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection in Minnesota.

Eleven Minnesotans ranging from 3 to 68 years old fell ill between Sep 16 and 19, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said in a Sep 30 news release. Nine of them had eaten one of the Dole salads sold as Classic Romaine, American Blend, and Greener Selection, all of which contain Romaine lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots, officials said.

The health agencies said consumers should not eat any of these products bearing the message "Best if used by 09/23/05" and a production code beginning with B250.

The products linked with illness were bought from at least four different Rainbow Foods stores in the Twin Cities area between Sep 13 and 16, the MDH said. But the FDA said products with the affected production codes are distributed nationwide.

"Given the severity of this illness, FDA believes an urgent warning to consumers is needed," Dr. Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in an Oct 2 FDA news release. He said the FDA is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state agencies to learn more about the source and scope of the problem.

The MDH statement said there was no evidence of contamination in any other lot numbers of the products.

In E coli cases, illness usually begins between 2 and 5 days after contaminated food is eaten, the MDH said. Adults usually recover in 5 to 10 days. But in some people, especially the elderly and children younger than 5, the infection leads to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause kidney failure and in some cases death.

See also:

Oct 2 FDA news release
http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2005/ucm108495.htm

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