Multistate E. coli outbreak linked to hazelnuts

The FDA and CDC are advising people in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to discard in-shell hazelnuts and mixed-nut products that contain in-shell hazelnuts due to the potential for serious illness from possible Esherichia coli 0157:H7 contamination.

Distributor DeFranco & Sons of Los Angeles is voluntarily recalling hazelnuts after reports that seven became sick with E. coli 0157:H7 after consuming its product. Symptom onset among these individuals occurred between Dec. 20, 2010 and Jan. 28, 2011. None involved hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure associated E. coli, and no deaths have been reported thus far, according to a CDC press release.

The hazelnuts in question were distributed nationwide and to Canada between Nov. 2 and Dec. 22, 2010 and may have been sold in 2 lb. and 4 lb. packages of mixed nuts, 1 lb. packages of in-shell hazelnuts and in open bins of nuts in grocery stores, according to the FDA.

Sunripe Hazelnuts, Sunripe Large Hazelnuts in 1-pound packages, and Sunripe Mixed Nuts in 2-lb. and 4-lb packages, all with a “Sell-By” date of 6/30/2011, are among the products included in the recall. A full list is available, here.

The Minnesota Department of Health, which reported three of the seven cases, advises anyone that experiences symptoms including severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but little or no fever, to contact their health care provider immediately. “E. coli O157:H7 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, which might promote the development of HUS,” the organization warned.

Onset usually occurs two to five days after consuming a contaminated product.

“Consumers, retailers and others who have any of the recalled products should dispose of them in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can,” the CDC wrote in a press release. “This will prevent people or animals from eating them.”

The CDC added that illnesses that occurred after Feb. 17, 2011 may not yet be reported, as it usually takes an average of two to three weeks from when a person becomes ill for data to become available.

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