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15-State E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Farm Rich Frozen Foods

Filed April 3rd, 2013 edlieber1

An E. coli outbreak linked to Farm Rich frozen foods has now infected four people from New York.

The four New Yorkers join a list that includes at least 21 people from 14 other states, the New York State Department of Health told Food Poisoning Bulletin. The majority of the patients are under 21, and eight people have been hospitalized since the outbreak. One person has become seriously ill, developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli poisoning that can lead to HUS kidney failure, the Food Poisoning Bulletin said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the outbreak last week, saying it had begun in late December. Since that time, health officials from state health departments, the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been working together on the investigation. Due to the genetic fingerprints of the E. coli bacteria taken from case patients, investigators found that at least two dozen cases in 15 states were linked, the Food Poisoning Bulletin said.

All infected patients told investigators that they had eaten frozen foods prior to becoming sick, with the Farm Rich brand being the common link. The New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center Laboratory, ran tests on an open bag of Farm Rich mini chicken and cheese quesadillas from a patient’s home, the Food Poisoning Bulletin said.  The agency discovered that the product was contaminated by the same E. coli as the outbreak strain. The findings led to a recall of 98 tons of Farm Rich quesadillas, pizza slices, mozzarella bites and cheese steak sandwiches, the Food Poisoning Bulletin said. Consumers who have these products in their freezers should not eat them.

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