Health

E. Coli Outbreak: 10 Million Pounds of Frozen Pizza and Snacks Recalled

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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After 24 cases of E. coli were reported, a frozen snack food maker in Buffalo, N.Y., has recalled 10 million pounds of frozen pizza, chicken quesadillas, mozzarella sticks and more.

Rich Products Corp. recalled all food made in its plants in Waycross, Ga., including those products with a “Best By” date from Jan. 1, 2013 to Sept. 29, 2013. The full list of products can be found in this press release.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 24 cases of E. coli 0121 in 15 different states. Those who became ill had eaten certain Farm Rich and Market Day pizza, frozen chicken quesadillas, and other frozen snacks. Seven people have been hospitalized since the outbreak. So far, 75 percent of those infected have been 21 years old or younger.

Escherichia coli O121 is a fatal and rare strain of the Shiga toxin producing E. coli bacteria. It can cause bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps within two to eight days of eating contaminated food. While it can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can result in kidney failure, most of those infected recover within a week.  

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Because clinical laboratories typically test only for the E. coli O157 strains, the kind tied to infect hamburger meat, it can be difficult to identify and trace the strain.

Rich Products Corp. previously issued a recall for 196,000 pounds of its frozen snacks on Mar. 28. The company’s president Bill Gisel said he was unware that anyone was sickened from their frozen pizza, but because a cause of the outbreak couldn’t be pinpointed, the company chose to expand a recall of its products.

“When it became apparent to us that, despite the expertise of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the scientific community and our own experts, identification of a specific cause was not going to be a simple or short process, we decided to act proactively to expand the recall.”

Sources: Inquistr, NBC News