E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Hazelnuts in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin

After nut products were linked to seven cases of foodborne illness in Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, DeFranco and Sons of Los Angeles, California, issued a recall of bulk and consumer-packaged in-shell, hazelnut and mixed nut products containing hazelnuts over concerns the products may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria (<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">E. coli O157:H7), the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced. Hazelnuts may also be called filberts.

DeFranco and Sons received the in-shell nuts from suppliers or growers and subsequently distributed the nuts nationwide and in Canada. Affected nuts were distributed between November 2, 2010 and December 22, 2010:

Sunripe:

• 1 lb. Large Hazelnuts, Sell By Date: 06/30/11, UPC 070533 000167

• 1 lb. Mixed Nuts, Sell By Date: 06/30/11, UPC 070533 000143

• 2 lbs. Mixed Nuts, Sell By Date: 06/30/11, UPC 070533 001003

• 50 lb. Imperial Mixed Nuts, no Sell By Date, no UPC

• 50 lb. Supreme Mixed Nuts, no Sell By Date, no UPC

None: Sold as “Season’s Greetings” Gift Pack:

• 4 lbs Mixed Nuts, Sell By Date: 06/30/11, UPC 070533 101024

George Packing:

• 50 lb. Hazelnuts, only products distributed by DeFranco and Sons between 11/2/10 to 12/22/10.

Of note, said the FDA, the 50-pound bags of in-shell hazelnuts or mixed nuts with hazelnuts may have been repacked or sold in bulk containers to consumers; in-shell hazelnuts may have been sold in 2- and 4-pound packages of mixed nuts, 1-pound packages containing only in-shell hazelnuts, or in open bins of nuts in grocery stores.

Consumers in possession of the recalled products should not eat them and are urged to check with their place of purchase to determine if they are in possession of recalled products. DeFranco & Sons can be reached toll-free, at 1.800.992.3992, Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Pacific Time. Consumers with questions about nut safety can call 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

The FDA said it became of aware of the problem in late February and is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); public health and agricultural agencies in states where illnesses have occurred; and with state authorities. The FDA has also shared information with Canadian authorities.

E. coli is a potentially deadly pathogen; E. coli symptoms include bloody diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. In the most severe cases, kidney failure can occur. The very young, seniors, and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible. E. coli infection can lead to other adverse health effects, some long-term and serious, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which encompasses a group of disorders, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which cause the intestines to become inflamed. IBD can cause abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and bleeding from the intestines.

Victims of E. coli infection are at risk of developing a form of reactive arthritis called Reiter’s Syndrome, which typically affects large weight-bearing joints such as the knees and the lower back. Some victims require kidney transplants and may have scarred intestines that cause lasting digestive difficulty. Even E. coli patients who supposedly recovered can experience long-term health problems later on. For instance, it is estimated that 10 percent of E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, in which their kidneys and other organs fail.

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