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E. Coli Recall Linked to Celery Expands

Dec 3, 2015

Costco, Target, 7-Eleven, Walmart, and Starbucks are among the many retailers pulling products that contain a diced celery blend that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 from their shelves.

Taylor Farms Pacific of Tracy, California, is recalling products that may include celery that may be contaminated with the pathogen, according to Food Safety News.

A sample of celery and onion diced blend used in a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7 and that chicken salad has been linked to an outbreak that has sickened at least 19 people across seven states. The recall covers a variety of food products, including chicken salads and wraps, celery sticks and snack trays. Starbucks’ Holiday Turkey & Stuffing Panini is one of the recalled products. A complete list of the recalled products and the retailers selling the products can be found on the FDA web site.

The CDC said the illness reports began on October 6 and the people who have become ill range in age from 5 to 84.

Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria live in the intestines of people and animals. Most E. coli strains are harmless and play an important role in a healthy human intestinal tract, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But some E. coli are pathogenic and can cause diarrhea or illnesses outside of the intestinal tract.

The CDC explains that E. coli is transmitted by food or water contaminated with animal or human feces. Infection can be prevented by safe preparation of foods and beverages that could be contaminated with the bacteria, as well as by frequent, thorough hand washing during food preparation.

The E. coli strains that cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons. Symptoms of the illness include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting, and symptoms usually emerge three to four days after exposure to the bacteria. If the sick individual has fever, it is usually less than 101˚F. Most people recover from the illness within five to seven days, but the infection can be severe or even life-threatening and some people develop kidney and other complications. Some people with the infection develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. of Tracy, CA, is recalling the celery blend and products made with the blend "out of an abundance of caution." Testing by the Montana Public Health Laboratory identified E. coli in the blend used in a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad that has been linked to a multi-state E. coli outbreak that has sickened 19 people, according to the CDC. Health officials say the outbreak number is likely rise as they identify more illnesses with this DNA fingerprint.

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