Contaminated celery has been identified as the source of a recent E. coli scare at Costco, ABC7 reports. The recall, which stemmed from rotisserie chicken salad at Costco, has been expanded to include other retailers. The tainted celery was distributed by Taylor Farms Pacific, based in Tracy, California. Affected products include salad kits, vegetable trays and other prepared foods; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the recall to include 155,000 items. Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Albertsons, 7-Eleven, Target and Safeway are affected by the recall. Starbucks is also recalling its Holiday Turkey & Stuffing Panini. Western states are the most affected, but stores in Georgia, Arkansas, Nebraska and Hawaii have been impacted as well.
E. coli is normally present in the digestive tract and usually harmless, but exposure to certain strains can lead to foodborne illness, causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms typically appear three to seven days after coming into contact with the bacteria.
There is often a time delay with tracking food recalls, notes Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. In this case, the issue was identified by state health officials who found the link among 19 infections in seven states. “Very quickly they noticed these people did have something in common. They really liked and ate the rotisserie chicken salad,” he said, according to ABC7.
According to the CDC, reports of illness began on Oct. 6 and affected people between the ages of 5 to 84. The strain that has been identified in the recall is E. coli 0157:H7, “a bacterium that causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools.” an FDA press release states. The majority of adults will recover, but some patients may develop a type of kidney failure known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS can result in serious kidney damage and death; it is more likely to occur in young children and the elderly.