Salad kits linked to new E coli outbreak in US, Canada

Fresh Express salad kit
Fresh Express salad kit

Jim Wappes

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned consumers yesterday to avoid certain Fresh Express chopped salad kits now linked to a multistate Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak in the United States as well cases in five Canadian provinces.

The CDC is also tracking an outbreak of E coli O157:H7 connected to romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California. As of Dec 4, 102 people in 23 states have been sickened in that outbreak, and 58 people have been hospitalized.

CDC officials are trying to determine whether romaine lettuce in the salad kits is the source of the newly reported outbreak.

Three patients have kidney failure

The new outbreak has sickened eight people in three states, including three patients who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. Four cases have been reported in Minnesota, three in Wisconsin, and one in North Dakota.

Patients reported symptom onset from Nov 5 to 15, and they range in age from 21 to 91, with a median age of 32. Five of the patients are women, the CDC said.

Of seven people who have been interviewed, all reported eating leafy greens in the week before developing symptoms, and six reported eating or maybe eating a Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kit.

Canada reports 16 cases

The investigation is also being conducted with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which has identified 16 cases of E coli in five eastern provinces likely linked to the same salad kits. Canadian patients reported symptom onset between Nov 5 and Nov 22, and four have been hospitalized. As in the US, no deaths have been reported.

Investigations are still under way to determine what ingredient in the chopped salad kit is contaminated.

"Romaine lettuce is one of the ingredients in the salad kit, but we do not know yet if this outbreak is related to a current outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California, growing region," the CDC said. "Preliminary information indicates that romaine lettuce in the salad kits eaten by some of the sick people likely came from the Salinas growing region."

Buyers and sellers should toss Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits, with a best-before date up to and including Dec 7, 2019, the CDC said. The kits are clearly marked on the front of the bag, and are labeled UPC 0 71279 30906 4, beginning with lot code Z.

"Check your fridge for this salad kit," the CDC said. "Don't eat it. Throw it away. Even if some of the kit was eaten and no one got sick, throw the rest away."

See also:

Dec 9 CDC notice

Dec 8 PHAC notice

Dec 4 CDC Salinas outbreak update

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