Walnuts removed from whole foods after E. Coli outbreak

A California company is recalling organic walnuts sold at health food stores and co-op retailers in 19 states because of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 12 people and hospitalized seven, federal officials said.

Gibson Farms, the Hollister, California-based company, is voluntarily recalling its shelled walnuts branded as Organic Light Halves and Pieces after discovering that the walnuts may contain the E. coli 0157:H7 strain that “causes an illness diarrhea often with bloody stools”. ” the Food and Drug Administration said in an advisory Tuesday.

The recall came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the company of 12 recorded illnesses linked to walnuts. They were distributed in more than 300 food retailers, including Whole Foods Market, New Seasons Market and Rosauers Supermarkets, the FDA said.

An investigation is underway to determine the potential source of the contamination, the FDA said. The company did not immediately respond to requests Wednesday.

Symptoms of E. coli can vary from person to person and may include cramps, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal distress. Other common symptoms include vomiting and fever. According to the CDC, people begin to feel symptoms three to four days after ingesting food or drinks containing the E. coli bacteria.

A Whole Foods spokesperson said the recalled nuts were shipped to 10 of their Whole Foods Market stores in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas and used only as an ingredient in a salad offered in those stores' salad bars. The lettuce was removed from the salad bars and the recalled nuts were immediately destroyed, the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for New Seasons Market said the grocery store chain “promptly removed the affected product” from its shelves, adding that it also “placed signage in relevant sections to alert consumers who may have purchased it.”

This particular strain of E. coli is associated with a toxin called Shiga that can cause bloody diarrhea and “for a small number of people, it can cause serious illness,” Dr. Richard Ellison, an epidemiologist at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. ., he said Wednesday.

Although most healthy adults fully recover within a week, some people may develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is more likely to occur in young children and older adults, the FDA said in its release.

Dr Ellison said about 90% of people will recover on their own without needing antibiotics, and about 10% will develop the disease which can cause anemia and kidney damage.

“In general, we recommend providing supportive care and keeping people well hydrated,” he added.

Consumers experiencing symptoms should contact their health care providers for assistance, the FDA said.

So far, people who have fallen ill during the outbreak have been in California and Washington state. No deaths were reported.

According to the FDA, the organic light halves and pieces were sold in 25-pound bulk containers. The expiration dates of the affected product are between May 21, 2025 and June 7, 2025, the agency said.

A list of stores where the nuts were sold is available on the FDA website.

Consumers who purchased nuts in bulk containers should check their pantries, refrigerators and freezers and “do not eat or use them,” the FDA said. They should also “clean and sanitize surfaces” that came into contact with the product, the agency said.

Retailers who received the recalled products should discard the nuts and disinfect the containers before refilling them, the FDA said.

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