Nov 19, 2021
E. coli outbreak traced to organic baby spinach
The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working with the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and public health agencies in other states on an ongoing investigation of an outbreak ofE. coli O157 infections associated with eating organic baby spinach.
The outbreak spans seven states so far and has sickened at least 10 people. Of eight people with the information available, two have been so sick that they had to be admitted to hospitals. No deaths have been reported, according to an outbreak announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Josie’s Organics reports distributing the spinach nationwide to retailers. A package of the implicated spinach had a best-by date of Oct. 23. The CDC did not report whether other best-by dates are involved. The CDC did not post any product photographs.
Whole-genome sequencing of samples from patients matched, indicating a common source of contamination.
According to investigators from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota cases became ill from Oct. 17 to Oct. 23. Neither ill person was hospitalized. The ill Minnesotans were in their mid-20’s. One is a metro area resident, and the other is from outstate Minnesota. One case reported eating Josie’s Organics organic baby spinach purchased from HyVee, and the other case reported Fresh Thyme organic baby spinach purchased from Fresh Thyme. Both brands are produced by Braga Fresh. The MDA collected leftover Josie’s Organics organic baby spinach with a best by date of 10/23/2021 from a Minnesota case’s home, and this product tested positive for E. coli O157.
Additional outbreak cases are being investigated in other states. At this time, Minnesota health officials are warning consumers to not eat Josie’s Organics organic baby spinach and Fresh Thyme organic baby spinach with a best by date on or around 10/23/2021, and if they have it in their refrigerators, to throw it out. The investigation by state and federal partners to determine the scope of the contamination is ongoing; this investigation could result in expansion of the warning to include additional production dates.
Information on the national outbreak can be found on the CDC’s website: E. coli Outbreak Linked to Baby Spinach.
Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli O157 typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after exposure, but this period can range from one to eight days. Most people recover in 5 to 10 days. However, E. coli O157 infections sometimes lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Those most at risk of developing complications from E. coli O157 include children younger than 10 years of age, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Diarrhea associated with E. coli O157 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote the development of HUS. Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli O157 infection should contact their health care provider.
Approximately 120 cases of E. coli O157 infection are reported each year in Minnesota. More information on E. coliO157 and how to prevent it can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) E. coli website.