FDA ties up with CDC to investigate multistate outbreak of E.coli O157:H7

U.S – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners, is investigating a multistate outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 infections associated with spinach consumption.

Reports by the CDC indicate that as of Nov. 15, 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from seven states including Lowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and South Dakota. Ailments are believed to have started on dates ranging from Oct. 15 to Oct. 27.

Five people in this outbreak reported eating spinach in the week before becoming sick and one person reported eating Josie’s Organics brand. Following the reports, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected a sample of Josie’s Organics Baby Spinach from the home of an ill person and the sample tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

This sample had a “Best If Used By” date of Oct. 23 and is undergoing Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis to determine if the strain of E. coli O157:H7 present in the product sample matches the outbreak strain.

As WGS analysis of the sample is underway, the FDA is tracing back the supply of the baby spinach in the positive product sample. Thus far, the FDA has traced supply chains for this product back to a small number of farms in two different geographic regions and is deploying investigators along the supply chains of interest.

Although this product is past expiration and should no longer be available for purchase, consumers are advised to check their homes for the product and discard it.

The FDA and state partners are working with the firm to determine if additional products could be affected. This is an ongoing investigation and additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

FDA has warned consumers, restaurants, and retailers, to steer clear from selling, or serving Josie’s Organics Baby Spinach with a “Best If Used By” date of Oct. 23, 2021. Josie’s Organics Baby Spinach is sold in a clear plastic clamshell with the “Best If Used By” date on the top label.

E.coli 0157:H7

E.coli are mostly harmless bacteria that live in the intestines of people and animals and contribute to intestinal health. However, a few strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Different types of E. coli tend to contaminate different types of foods and water. Previous U.S. outbreaks of pathogenic E. coli have included leafy greens, sprouts, raw milk and cheeses, and raw beef and poultry. 

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), including E. coli O157:H7, can be particularly dangerous. The primary sources of STEC outbreaks are raw or undercooked ground meat products, raw milk and cheeses, and contaminated vegetables and sprouts.

E.coli O157:H7 infection usually begins three or four days after exposure to the bacteria but symptoms can even manifest a week later. Healthy adults typically recover from infection with E. coli O157:H7 within a week. Young children and older adults have a greater risk of developing a life-threatening form of kidney failure.

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