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CDC reports nationwide E. coli infection from frozen food products

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported yet another outbreak of E. coli bacteria in nationally distributed food products. This outbreak has been tied to Farm Rich brand frozen food products as a source of E. coli O121 infection.

24 people had been sickened by the infection in 15 different states. On Thursday, Rich Products Corporation recalled 196,222 pounds of Farm Rich brand frozen chicken quesadillas and other frozen items due to potential E. coli O121 contamination.

The CDC reports it is working with, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and public health officials in many states to investigate the E. coli outbreak.

Investigating and tracking E. coli infections has become more accurate with the use of DNA "fingerprints" of E. coli bacteria. Before DNA testing, it was an extremely complex process to trace all of the cases of infection and attempt to tie them back to a single source.

This is important, because with nationwide distribution, contaminated products can spread throughout the nation and thousands of people can be infected in a short period of time. No deaths have been reported from this outbreak, but the CDC reported one case of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a deadly disease that can cause renal failure and death, and is often a result of an E. coli O157:H7 infection.

The majority of those infected have been female and 21-years-old or younger. If you have eaten any of the Farm Rich products, you consult your doctor and public health authority in Minnesota.

Source: CDC, "Multistate Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 Infections Linked to Farm Rich Brand Frozen Food Products," March 29, 2013

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