FDA Still searching for source of E.coli outbreak at Costco

With 19 sick from E. coli O157 linked to Costco rotisserie chicken salad, investigators are looking at ingredients for the original source. A U.S. federal agency has yet to determine the supply of an E. coli outbreak that sickened at least 19 people in seven states who may have been infected after eating rotisserie chicken salad sold at Costco Wholesale Corp. On Nov. 26, a celery and onion mix was identified leading to an expanded recall of 155,000 items, including salad kits, vegetable trays and other prepared foods. These products were sold at chains across the country, including Walmart, Costco, 7-Eleven and Target. Costco said it uses one supplier for vegetables in the chicken salad sold in all its U.S. stores.

A U.S. Meals and Drug Administration laboratory evaluation didn’t affirm the presence of E. coli in a pattern of celery and onion combine collected from a Costco retailer in Montana, the company stated on Tuesday. While E. coli usually isn’t life threatening to healthy individuals, elderly or young people, or those with weakened immune systems who are exposed to the bacteria may be more at risk for serious health problems. Health officials said last week that the strain of the bacteria that is linked to the outbreak, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, is not connected to the recent outbreak at Chipotle restaurants. The Costco-linked strain is more severe than the strain linked to Chipotle, they said.

The state carried out a speedy preliminary check after which they dispatched a partial pattern of the celery and onion combine to the FDA, which carried out an extra correct check that includes rising a colony of the microorganism. Fourteen of sixteen individuals purchased or ate rotisserie hen salad from Costco within the week earlier than the sickness began. The time between ingesting E. coli microorganism and feeling sick is often three to 4 days, however it could also be as brief as in the future or so long as 10 days. Signs typically start slowly with delicate stomach ache or non-bloody diarrhea that worsens over a number of days.


The spread of foodborne illness takes time to track, especially when it’s happening in multiple states, said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. Costco is working closely with the CDC, FDA and local health officials to find the source of the E. coli and has encouraged its suppliers to do the same said Craig Wilson, Costco vice president of food safety and quality assurance. “We feel terrible about the people who got sick,” he said.

The CDC has identified a DNA fingerprint of the E. coli strain connecting all 19 patients. As health departments get more reports of foodborne illness, additional people will be checked for the fingerprint and the case count will likely rise, Dr. Robert Tauxe said.

“All the evidence that we have points to this chicken salad,” he said. Tauxe explained that investigations are ongoing and he hopes they will eventually find the exact cause of both outbreaks.

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