Organic walnuts linked to serious E. Coli diseases

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News photo: Organic walnuts linked to serious E. Coli diseases By Ernie Mundell HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY May 2, 2024

Organic walnuts from a California grower that were distributed to health food and co-op stores in 19 states have been linked to severe cases of E. coli disease, federal officials said Tuesday.

Twelve people have become ill so far; seven were so sick they had to be hospitalized, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Six cases each have been identified in California and Washington state. No deaths have been reported.

The walnuts were produced and distributed by Gibson Farms of Hollister, California, and were typically sold in bulk bins at stores, although some may have repackaged the shelled walnut halves and pieces in plastic clamshell containers or bags, the FDA said.

The walnuts were sold in 19 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

“State and local public health officials interviewed people about the foods they ate in the week before they became ill,” the FDA noted. “Of the ten people interviewed, all ten (100%) reported eating walnuts, and almost all reported purchasing organic walnuts from bulk bins at food co-ops or health food stores.”

FDA investigators traced the outbreak to Gibson Farms, which issued a recall on April 27.

“Retailers and distributors who purchased recalled cases of Gibson Farms, Inc. Organic Walnut Halves and Pieces with lot codes 3325-043 and 3341-501 should not sell this product and should notify their customers of the recall,” the statement said. FDA. Stores should contact their suppliers if they are unsure whether they have received the contaminated walnuts.

Stores that know they sold the products between October and the end of April should also warn customers, the FDA said.

“Consumers who purchased organic walnut halves and pieces from bulk bins at the stores listed below should check their pantries, refrigerators, and freezers and should not eat the organic walnut halves and pieces,” the FDA said. “If you have these products in your home, do not eat or use them, throw them away, and clean and disinfect the surfaces they have touched.”

E. coli is a serious gastrointestinal bacterial infection that can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, nausea and/or vomiting. Symptoms usually begin within a few days of consuming spoiled food.

In some cases, E. coli can lead to bloody stools and “a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), or the development of high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and neurological problems,” the FDA warned.

SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news alert, April 30, 2024

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