Public health officials indicate that a multi-state outbreak of E. coli food poisoning, which has sickened more than a dozen individuals, is linked to certain pre-made chicken salad products sold at Sam’s Club and other grocery stores.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an Investigation Notice on November 20, after identifying at least 17 reports of illness across eight states, each involving consumers who became ill with a similar strain of E. coli O157:H7, a serious and sometimes fatal infection.
CDC officials, in conjunction with public health and state regulatory officials, indicate that the E. coli outbreak appears to be linked to certain chicken products used in pre-made Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Chicken Cesar Salads, which were sold at Sam’s Club and other retailers across the U.S.
According to a CDC press release, of the 17 people sickened by the outbreak, seven have been hospitalized and two developed a severe form of kidney failure commonly associated with the O157:H7 strain, known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
To date, illnesses have occurred in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Washington and Wisconsin.
The Maryland Department of Health reported to the CDC that a similar strain of E. coli O157 was identified in an unopened package of Ready Pac Bistro® Bowl Chicken Caesar Salad collected from a sick person’s home. The product was reportedly purchased at a local Sam’s Club and additional interviews with sickened consumers are underway to identify what they consumed in the days leading up to illness onset.
CDC officials are warning consumers, retailers and restaurants not to sell or eat any Ready Pac Bistro® Bowl Chicken Caesar Salads with a “Best By” date of October 31, 2019. Those with potentially contaminated products in their possession should throw them away and consult with their primary care physician if they develop any E. coli infection symptoms.
E. coli is a foodborne bacteria that lives in the intestines of people and animals and can become pathogenic causing severe bowel pain and diarrhea when exposed outside of the human intestinal tract. The bacteria are commonly transmitted through contaminated water or uncooked food, or through contact with animals and infected persons.
Typically, E. coli symptoms cause mild to severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps, bloody stools, and sometimes minor fevers lasting between five and 10 days. Individuals such as young children or the sick and elderly may be affected more because of a weakened immune system that if left untreated could develop into Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which could lead to kidney failure and even death.