Food

FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157 Illnesses Possibly Linked to Pre-packaged Salad Products

Posted December 11, 2013; Updated February 24, 2014

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections.

What is the Problem and What was Done About It?

The FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of E coli O157:H7 illnesses linked to prepackaged salad meals.

On December 11, 2013, the CDC reported that the outbreak appeared to be over.  There have been 33 cases of illness reported in 4 states, Arizona, California, Texas, and Washington.

On November 10, 2013, the FSIS announced disclaimer icon that Atherstone Foods, also doing business as Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond, Calif. establishment, was recalling approximately 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products with fully-cooked chicken and ham because some of these products have been linked to the illnesses through epidemiological and traceback investigation.

In a related recall announcement, Atherstone Foods, Inc. of Richmond, Calif. recalled ready to eat salads and wraps with “Best Buy” dates 9-23-13 through 11-14-13 because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.  

Through a traceback investigation, the FDA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) evaluated the ingredient list of the recalled salads.  Lettuce from a farm in California was the only common ingredient in the traced back salads.  The traceback indicates that lettuce from the farm in California was a likely vehicle for the outbreak.

The FDA and the CDPH collected salad samples from Atherstone on November 8, 2013; all samples tested negative for E. coli O157:H7.  On November 21, 2013, the FDA and CDPH collected 10 environmental (soil and water) samples from the California farm, and five tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

The lettuce harvest field was surrounded by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) on the northwest and southwest.  Following the findings, on December 6, 2013, the farm agreed to hold current crops on fields nearest to where the positive samples were found until the investigation is completed.

On December 11, 2013, FDA collected one additional environmental sample from the California farm and it tested negative for E. coli O157:H7.   The FSIS collected chicken salad and chicken wrap samples from Atherstone Foods on December 10, 2013 for testing.  These samples tested negative for E. coli O157:H7.

What are the Symptoms of Shiga Toxin-Producing E coli Infection?

The symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high (less than 101ËšF/less than 38.5ËšC). Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

How Soon do Symptoms Appear after Exposure?

The time between ingesting the STEC bacteria and feeling sick is called the “incubation period.” The incubation period is usually 3 to 4 days after the exposure, but may be as short as 1 day or as long as 10 days. The symptoms often begin slowly with mild belly pain or non-bloody diarrhea that worsens over several days. HUS, if it occurs, develops an average 7 days after the first symptoms, when the diarrhea is improving.

What are the Complications of STEC Infections?

Around 5 to 10 percent of those who are diagnosed with STEC infection develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Clues that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. Persons with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most persons with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.

Who is at Risk?

People of any age can become infected. Very young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more at risk of developing severe illness and HUS, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill.

What Specific Products were Recalled?  

On November 10, 2013, the FSIS announced disclaimer icon that Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond, Calif. establishment, was recalling approximately 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products with fully-cooked chicken and ham because some of these products have been linked to the illnesses through epidemiological and traceback investigation. The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, 2013 and shipped to distributions centers intended for retail sale in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. The FSIS website has made distribution information disclaimer icon and product labels disclaimer icon available.  

  • 12 oz. packages of  “delish pan pacific chop salad”
  • 13.4 oz. packages of  “delish California style grilled chicken salad”
  • 9.9 oz. packages of  “delish uncured applewood smoked ham & cheese wrap”
  • 10.5 oz. packages of “delish grilled chicken caesar wrap”
  • 10.9 oz. packages of  “delish southwestern chicken wrap”
  • 11.5 oz. packages of  “delish greek brand low-calorie grilled chicken wrap”
  • 9.9 oz. packages of  “delish white chicken club wrap”
  • 11.2 oz. packages of  “delish asian style chicken wrap”
  • 13.4 oz. packages of  “atherstone Fine Foods Southwestern Style White Chicken Wrap with Chimichurri Sauce”
  • 10.5 oz. packages of  “atherstone Fine Foods Asian Style White Chicken Wrap with Mango Vinaigrette”
  • 9.9 oz. packages of  “atherstone Fine Foods Grilled White Chicken Caesar Wrap with Caesar Dressing”
  • 10.7 oz. packages of  “super fresh Foods California Grilled Chicken Salad, Low Fat Mendocino Mustard Dressing”
  • 10.7 oz. packages of  “Lunch Spot Southwestern Style Chicken Wrap, Chile & Lime  Dressing”
  • 9.2 oz. packages of  “Super Fresh Foods Pan Pacific Chopped Chicken Salad, Ginger Soy Dressing”
  • 10.7 oz. plastic containers of “TRADER JOE’S Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken.”
  • 11 oz. plastic containers of “TRADER JOE’S MEXICALI SALAD with Chili Lime Chicken.”  

In a related recall announcement, Atherstone Foods, Inc. of Richmond, Calif. recalled ready-to-eat salads and wraps with “Best Buy” dates 9-23-13 through 11-14-13 because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. The following products are affected by the recall announced by Atherstone Foods, Inc.:  

  • Delish Greek Style Orzo Salad (6.oz) Clam Shell/ UPC#49022 74630/ Distributed to Northern Calif. Walgreens
  • Delish Asian Style Noodle Salad (6. oz)  Clam Shell/ UPC# 49022 74628/ Distributed to Northern Calif. Walgreens
  • Delish Vegetarian Wrap (11.3oz) Cellophane/ UPC# 49022 55349/ Distributed to Northern Calif. Walgreens
  • Classic Greek Salad (9. oz) Clam Shell/ UPC# 0083 5794/ Distributed to Northern Calif. and Northern Nevada Trader Joe’s
  • Southwestern  Salad Kit (20 Lbs box)/ No UPC#/ Distributed to Northern Calif. Whole Foods (View the Whole Foods recall announcement)
  • Wheat Berry Salad Kit (20 Lbs box)/ No UPC#/ Distributed to Northern Calif. Whole Foods  (View the Whole Foods recall announcement

What Do Consumers Need To Do? 

If consumers have the recalled products, they should dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.  Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. At home, wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food; keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from fresh produce and other ready-to-eat foods; cook foods to the proper temperature; and refrigerate perishable foods promptly.

What is the best treatment for STEC infection?

Non-specific supportive therapy, including hydration, is important. Antibiotics should not be used to treat this infection. There is no evidence that treatment with antibiotics is helpful, and taking antibiotics may increase the risk of HUS. Antidiarrheal agents like Imodium® may also increase that risk.

Who Should be Contacted?

Consumers with questions may contact Atherstone Foods at (510) 236-8905 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm PST.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or to consult the fda.gov website: www.fda.gov.


The information in this release reflects the FDA’s best efforts to communicate what it has learned from the manufacturer and the state and local public health agencies involved in the investigation. The agency will update this page as more information becomes available.
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Page Last Updated: 04/01/2014
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