UPDATE: The recall has been expanded from 196,222 pounds to over 10.5 million pounds. A full listing of the affected products is available at the USDA's website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that 24 cases of E. coli O121 have been reported across 15 states, with at least one linked to the consumption of Farm Rich brand frozen meals and snacks. One third of the cases have required hospitalization and no deaths have occurred.
Illness related to this outbreak's strain have been reported in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. 78% of those sickened are under the age of 22.
Rich Products Corporation recalled approximately 196,222 pounds of Farm Rich Mini Quesadillas, Philly Cheese Steaks, Mini Pizza Slices and Mozzarella Bites produced from November 12-19, 2012 after being informed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of potential contamination of these products.
The CDC is working with state officials to interview infected people about foods they had eaten prior to their illness. All 18 ill people officials spoke with reported consuming frozen food products; eight reported consuming Farm Rich brand frozen food products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are also currently conducting investigations to determine the source of outbreak.
Consumers with questions regarding the recall should contact the company at 1-888-220-5955 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday or via the website's contact form. Any affected product should be discarded, rather than returned to the grocery store, and Farm Rich will issue a refund or replacement.
Consumers with food safety question are encouraged to contact "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 am to 4 pm ET Monday through Friday.
– Fast facts on E. coli
The CDC reports that sickness from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli usually occurs 2-8 days after swallowing the organism. Symptoms of kidney failure related to STEC can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth and decreased urination.