An outbreak of E.coli O121 has sickened 24 people from 15 states, according to the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS).
Rich Products Corporation, a Buffalo, New York firm, is recalling 196,222 pounds of frozen chicken quesadilla and various other heat treated, not fully cooked frozen mini meals and snack items because they may be the contaminated product.
Many clinical laboratories do not test for non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), such as STEC O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 or O145 because it is harder to identify.
E.Coli O121 detected
FSIS said it was notified of a multistate investigation of E.coli O121 illnesses on 19 March.
The products subject to recall were produced between 12 November 2012 and 19 November 2012 then distributed for retail sale nationwide, including Walmart, Kroger, Harveys and Alco.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 78% of ill people are aged 21 or younger.
FSIS and the establishment are “concerned” that some product may be in household freezers.
A sample of a Farm Rich frozen chicken mini quesadilla product from a New York case tested positive for the outbreak strain of E.coli O121.
Eight cases in Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia report consuming Farm Rich products.
Food samples were collected from an ill individual in New York as part of this investigation, and tested by the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Laboratory.
FSIS is working with federal and state public health partners, including the New York State Department of Health, New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the CDC.
Products recalled include mini pizza slices with cheese pepperoni and sauce in pizza dough, mini pizza slices with cheese pepperoni and sauce in pizza dough, bags of mini quesadillas with cheese, grilled white meat chicken in a crispy crust and bags of philly cheese steaks with cheese, beef and onions in a crispy crust.
There are also products that fall under the FDA jurisdiction such as 22-oz. cartons of mozzarella bites in a pizzeria style crust, 7-oz. cartons of mozzarella bites in a pizzeria style crust and 22-oz. bags of Market Day Mozzarella Bites.
Infection with E.coli O121 can result in dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps two to eight days (three to four on average) after exposure.
While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).
Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, decreased urination, and swelling.