E. coli outbreak: FDA stops distribution of soy nut butter

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Twelve people in five states have become ill from E. coli, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said March 3, 2017.

(CNN) — No food products may be sold or distributed from the Dixie Dew Products, Inc facility in Erlinger, Kentucky, because they may be contaminated with E. coli, the US Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

Dixie Dew had been contracted by I.M. Healthy as the manufacturer of their soy nut butter which has been linked to a multistate E. coli outbreak that has sickened 29 people in 12 states this year.

The FDA said they suspended Dixie Dew’s registration, “after an inspection revealed insanitary conditions at the firm that could affect the safety of finished products.” The inspection was conducted earlier this month.

On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the recalled soy nut butter products are continuing to make people sick.

The agency reported six additional illnesses bringing the total to 29. Twenty-four of those illnesses are in individuals younger than 18.

In all, 12 patients have been hospitalized, and nine of those individuals developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure that can be life-threatening, although most people recover within a few weeks.

“We are urging parents and caregivers to check for recalled SoyNut Butter products and throw them away. This product has a long shelf life and may still be in homes and classrooms,” the CDC said in a statement.

The products include “any variety or size of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter, I.M. Healthy brand granola, Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter, or 20/20 Lifestyle Yogurt Peanut Crunch Bars, regardless of the date of purchase or the date listed on the container,” according to the CDC.

Separate recalls were issued of the products by their respective companies throughout the month because they have been linked to this outbreak.

Health investigators have found that nearly all of the ill individuals reported “either eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter at home (15 people) in the week before they became ill, attending a facility that served I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter (2 people), or attending childcare centers that served I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter and I.M. Healthy brand granola coated with SoyNut Butter” in the week before their symptoms began. The investigation is ongoing.

The most recent cases of illness began experiencing symptoms March 13, nearly two months after the first cases began.

Symptoms of E. coli illness usually start two to eight days after consuming the bacteria. They include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people recover in five to seven days, although 5% to 10% of individuals diagnosed with this type of E. coli illness develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the CDC.

Because it can take two to three weeks from the time someone becomes ill and when they report it, the number of cases is expected to rise.

Illnesses have been reported in 12 states. Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts now join New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington in reporting cases linked to this outbreak.

Four lawsuits were filed in federal court against I.M. Healthy and Dixie Dew by William Marler, a personal injury lawyer who specializes in foodborne illness cases. He said he represents 15 individuals who have become ill in this outbreak.

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