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E. coli O121 Outbreak Associated With Farm Rich Expands

Five more victims in four states were added Friday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to the list of confirmed cases in the rare Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 outbreak associated with Farm Rich brand products.

The additional victims—one each in California, Colorado, and Ohio and two in Florida—bring the total number of individuals infected with the outbreak strain of E coli O121 (STEC O121) to 32.

CDC says 35 percent of the victims have required hospitalization and two developed the kidney-damaging hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported among the mostly young (81 percent are age 21 or under) victims.

Among persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from December 30, 2012 to April 2, 2013. Ill persons range in age from one year to 75 years, with a median age of 17 years. Fifty-six percent of ill persons are female.

Illnesses that occurred after March 30, 2013 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.

CDC and state public health officials are interviewing ill persons to obtain information regarding foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before illness.

Information available to date indicates that consumption of Farm Rich brand frozen food products is one likely source of infection for the ill persons in this outbreak.

The outbreak strain of STEC O121 has been identified in two different Farm Rich brand frozen products collected from the homes of two ill persons.

The Outbreaks Section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) Eastern Laboratory identified the outbreak strain from individually wrapped Farm Rich brand frozen mini pizza slices from an opened package collected from an ill person’s home in Texas.

The New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center Laboratory, identified the outbreak strain from an opened package of Farm Rich brand frozen chicken quesadillas from an ill person’s home.

On April 4, 2013, Rich Products Corporation expanded its recall to include all Farm Rich, Market Day, and Schwan’s brand frozen food products produced at its Waycross, Georgia plant between July 1, 2011 and March 29, 2013 due to possible contamination with E. coli O121.

The recalled products had “Best By” dates ranging from January 1, 2013 to September 29, 2014.

USDA-FSIS and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently conducting investigations to determine the source of product contamination.

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