Local Food Distributor Might Be Behind E. Coli Outbreak At Trader Joe’s

A Richmond-based food distributor on Sunday recalled about 181,620 pounds of prepared salads and sandwich wraps that were sold at stores such as Trader Joe’s and Walgreens in the past few months.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Sunday that many of Glass Onion Catering products that were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6 and made with fully-cooked chicken and ham were possibly contaminated with a strain of E. coli.

The products were distributed to retail locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Some of the products that were sold at Trader Joe’s locations include the grocer’s “Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grill Chicken” and “Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken.”

Trader Joe’s posted on its website Sunday that the supplier of some of their salads alerted the grocery store there was a possibility of E. coli in specified regions.

Trader Joe’s told customers full refunds were available for the salads with use-by dates between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15.

Other items made at the same Richmond facility under the label Atherstone Food, Inc. that were sold at Walgreens include Delish Greek Style Orzo Salad, Delish Asian Style Noodle Salad, and Delish Vegetarian Wrap.

At Whole Foods the Southwestern and Wheat Berry salad kits have been recalled.

A list of all 16 products being recalled is available at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

In connection with the recalled food items, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been 26 people infected with a strain of E. coli, known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC.

Last week, the federal Food and Drug Administration notified the FSIS that illness had broken out in California after a cluster of patients had eaten pre-packaged salads with grilled chicken, which prompted a CDC investigation.

The outbreak, with 22 patients in California, one in Arizona and three in Washington, was traced back to Glass Onion Catering products.

Sixty-one percent of the patients are female. All of the patients became sick between Sept. 29 and Oct. 26.

Those who became sick range from 4 to 78 years old, with the median age 28 years old.

The bacteria can cause dehydration, cramps, bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which is a type of kidney failure. Most healthy adults can recover from the more milder symptoms within a week.

According to the CDC, six people have been hospitalized and two people have developed HUS. No deaths have been reported.
Those who have purchased the potentially contaminated items are advised to throw away or return the ready-to-eat salads and wraps.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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