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Posted on: November 22, 2019 at 5:06 pm

More than 48 tonnes of premade salads have been recalled from retailers around the country because of potential E.coli contamination [1]. 

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Missa Bay LLC. of Swedesboro, New Jersey have determined that a number of their salad products that contain meat or poultry may be contaminated with the E. coli strain O157:H7 [2].  This particular strain is considered to be a more serious infection [1].

What is E.coli?

E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a bacteria found in the environment, foods, and the intestines of people and animals [3].  This is a very diverse group of bacteria, and while most strains are harmless to human health, some can make you very sick [3].

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There are two types of E.coli that can cause illness in the United States: Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) and enterotoxigenic E.coli (ETEC) [4].

STEC E.coli produce Shiga toxin, which is what gives people diarrhea. When you hear about outbreaks, this strain is usually the cause [4].

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ETEC are what causes travelers’ diarrhea, and is also the leading cause of diarrhea around the world, particularly in children [4].

The most common sources of E.coli bacteria are water, raw vegetables and raw or undercooked ground beef [5].  When cattle are slaughtered and processed, bacteria from their intestines can get into the meat. Since ground beef combines meat from a variety of cows, the risk for infection is higher.  Furthermore, runoff from cattle farms can contaminate fields where fresh produce is grown, and vegetables like spinach and lettuce are more susceptible to contamination [4].

Symptoms 

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but typically include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (which can often be bloody), and vomiting. Some people may experience a mild fever, but most adults will get better within five to seven days [6].

Symptoms usually begin to set in after about three or four days, but in some cases, the affected individual might start to feel sick as soon as 24 hours after consuming contaminated food, or as late as ten days afterward [6].

If you experience diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, have diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever higher than 102°F, if you have blood in your stool or you are vomiting so much that you cannot keep liquids down, it is highly recommended that you go see your doctor [6].

Treatment

Unfortunately, there are no cures for an E.coli infection, nor are there any treatments to relieve symptoms or prevent complications. For most people, getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated are the best remedies [7].

You should not take anti-diarrhea medication, because this actually slows down your digestive system and can make your body take longer to get rid of the infection. You should also not take antibiotics because they can put you at greater risk for more serious complications [7].

How to Avoid an E.coli Infection

The best thing you can do to avoid E.coli infection is to practice safe food handling principles such as:

  • Don’t eat undercooked foods
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure you are cooking meat all the way through
  • Take steps to eliminate cross-contamination: keep your raw meat, cooked foods, fresh vegetables, etc. on separate cutting boards.
  • Use plastic or ceramic cutting boards for raw meat since they are easier to clean.
  • If a surface, plate, utensil, etc. came into contact with raw meat, do not let it come into contact with any other cooked or raw food item.
  • Defrost meat in the fridge – not the counter, and keep meat in a separate plastic bag when thawing.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, and before and after cooking [8].

Pay Attention to Recalls 

If there is a major recall in your area, make sure you check the items in your fridge to make sure you do not have infected food.  

In the case of this most recent recall in New Jersey, potentially dangerous lettuce is being recalled from Aldi, Target, Walmart and Dominos Pizza, as well as many more [1].  Click here for a full list of retailers involved.

The establishment number of the affected salads is “EST.18502B”.  Anyone with this number on any product in their fridge should throw it out immediately.  If you have any questions about the recall, you can contact Mary Toscano, consumer affairs manager for Missa Bay’s parent company, Bonduelle, at 800 800 7822 [1].

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Brittany Hambleton
Team Writer
Brittany is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario. She enjoyed a stint as a personal trainer and is an avid runner. Brittany loves to combine running and traveling, and has run numerous races across North America and Europe. She also loves chocolate more than anything else… the darker, the better!

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