State and Federal officials announced today that they are investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O121:H19 infections related to Earth Grown frozen falafel sold by Aldi stores.

As of this afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration is reporting that 20 people are confirmed infected with five requiring hospitalization. No deaths have been reported. Sick people have been confirmed in Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The most recent illness onset was Sept. 13.

The manufacturer of the falafel, Cuisine Innovations, has initiated a recall of some of its products and ceased production of them. Recalled products are Earth Grown vegan traditional falafel and garlic & herb falafel distributed and sold exclusively by ALDI. Additional information on recalled products is available in the firm’s recall notice, which was posted today by the FDA.

The FDA has not reported how the product became contaminated.

There is concern that consumers may still have unused product in their homes because of its long shelf life. The products’ shelf life when frozen is 18 months. 

The recalled products come in bags in boxes marked with any of the following Lot numbers: 1472, 1481, 1531, 1532, 1541, 1552, 1561, 1581, 1601, 1611, 1612, 1661, 1682, 1732, 1752, 1762, 1782, 1802, and 1812, and would have been shipped to stores after June 24, 2021.  The lot number can be found in the “Best if used by” area on the outside flap of the box. There has been no further production of this product, according to the company’s recall notice posted by the FDA.

Although complete distribution information is as yet unknown, it is known that the affected products were sent to 36 states and Washington D.C. The states that received the products are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, NewYork, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The count of sick people is expected to increase because of the time it takes for testing, diagnosis, confirmation testing and notification of state and federal officials.

“Based on epidemiologic information provided by CDC and interviews conducted by state and local public health officials, of 18 people interviewed, 15 reported shopping at ALDI stores. Among these 15 people who reported shopping at ALDI stores, 6 reported eating Earth Grown brand frozen falafel purchased from ALDI in the week before getting sick,” according to the FDA.

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