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FDA Investigates E. coli O157:H7 Illnesses Linked to Organic Spinach and Spring Mix Blend

December 10, 2012 

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December 10, 2012 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a final update on the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses linked to organic spinach and spring mix blend, reporting that this particular outbreak appears to be over.  A total of 33 people infected with the outbreak strain were reported from 5 states. There were 13 people hospitalized. Two ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported.

FDA continues its investigation into the source of the contamination of the organic spinach and spring mix blend.  

What is the Problem and What is Being Done?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state authorities have been investigating an outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 infections linked to organic spinach and spring mix blend supplied by State Garden, Inc. located in Chelsea, Massachusetts. 

On November 2, Wegmans recalled Wegmans brand Organic Spinach & Spring Mix sold in 5 oz and 11 oz packages from its stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts sold between October 14 and November 1. Wegmans recalled the product, a blend of organic spinach and spring mix, based on an association between the product and reported illnesses in New York State due to E.coli O157:H7 identified by New York State officials.

Testing conducted by the New York Department Health Wadsworth Center Laboratories isolated the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 from four leftover packages of Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend collected from four ill persons’ homes.

The product was supplied to Wegmans by State Garden, Inc. located in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Wegmans notified its supplier of the findings by New York State officials and the supplier issued a press release disclaimer icon related to the product.

FDA continues its investigation into the source of the contamination of the organic spinach and spring mix blend.  

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What are the Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7?

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 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

Around 5–10% 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 and the elderly are more likely than others to develop severe illness and HUS, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill. 

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What Do Consumers Need To Do?

If consumers have Wegmans Organic Spinach & Spring Mix, 5 oz. or 11 oz. sizes clam shell packages bought between October 14 and November 1, they should dispose of it.  Consumers can contact the store where the food item was purchased for a refund.

Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. At home, keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from produce and ready-to-eat foods. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.    

Who Should be Contacted? 

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 or consult the website.

Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Wegmans consumer affairs department toll free at 1(800) WEGMANS (934-6267) Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. 

Investigation Progression  

FDA will update the public on the progress of this investigation as more information becomes available.

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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.

For more information:

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