Local food distributor recalls products contaminated with E.coli

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A local food producer recalled food it supplies to stores such as Trader Joe’s, Walgreens and Whole Foods after an E. coli outbreak sickened 26 people in three western U.S. states.

Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond-based food production facility, recalled more than 180,000 pounds of prepackaged foods, including thousands of salads and wraps, after determining that some of the products had been contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

So far, 22 cases of illness have been reported in California alone. The other four were reported in Washington and Arizona, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The most recent case was reported Oct. 26.

Despite no cases being reported within the past two weeks, some of the illnesses related to the outbreak may not have been reported yet, according to the CDC website. There is often a delay between when individuals become ill and when those illnesses are reported to the proper authorities and linked to the outbreak.

Although no deaths have occurred due to the outbreak, six patients were hospitalized. Two of the cases have escalated to hemolytic uremic syndrome, or kidney failure resulting from E.coli infection.

In addition to the original manufacturer’s recall, Whole Foods issued its own recall Tuesday, detailing which of its Northern California locations may have carried contaminated products. These include stores in Oakland, Fremont and Walnut Creek.

Customers who purchased the recalled items with expiration dates falling between Sept. 23 and Thursday have been instructed to dispose of the food or return it to store at which it was purchased for a full refund.

The CDC has advised individuals who have already consumed potentially contaminated items but have not experienced symptoms yet to watch out for signs of infection and consider preemptively speaking with their doctors. E. coli sickness has a typical incubation period of two to eight days.

Earlier this year, thousands of frozen food products produced at a plant in Waycross, Ga., were recalled due to E. coli contamination. That outbreak caused 35 total cases of illness distributed among 19 states, including California. It resulted in nine hospitalizations.

The Food and Drug Administration is in the midst of a full investigation to find all potential causes of the outbreak.

Claire Chiara covers research and ideas. Contact her at [email protected].

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