Food Safety Alert: CDC links E. coli outbreak to salad kits

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ATLANTA (WJW) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Food Safety Alert after a multistate outbreak of E. coli linked to a certain type of pre-made salad.

The agency urged retailers to stop selling — and consumers to stop buying — Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits.

So far, the illnesses of eight people in three states were being linked to the salads.

The CDC said the products in question contained the UPC 0 71279 30906 4, beginning with lot code Z, and a best-before date up to and including 07DEC19. The information is printed on the front of the bag in the top right corner.

Romaine lettuce is one of the ingredients in the salad kit, but it’s unknown if this outbreak is related to a current outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California, growing region, the CDC reported.

If you have the salad kits in question, the CDC urged the following steps:

  • Don’t eat it. Throw it away.
  • Even if some of the kit was eaten and no one got sick, throw the rest away.
  • Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where the salad kit was stores. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.

So far, there have been eight cases of illness linked to the salads:

According to the CDC, here are the symptoms of E. coli infection:

  • People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 2 to 8 days (average of 3 to 4 days) after swallowing the germ.
  • Some people with  E. coli infections may get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
  • E. coli infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample.
  • Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli infection is ruled out. Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their risk of developing HUS, and a benefit of treatment with antibiotics has not been clearly demonstrated.

In a post on Facebook last month, Fresh Express wrote, “The safety and well-being of consumers is our highest priority at Fresh Express. FDA is advising consumers not to eat Romaine-containing salads if grown in the Salinas Valley, CA region due to a potential link to an illness outbreak. All Fresh Express salads clearly state the growing region on the front of our packages. As of November 23rd, NO Fresh Express salads are being produced or sold using Romaine lettuce grown in Salinas.”

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