Fresh Express salad kits linked to E. coli outbreak in 3 states, CDC says

An E. coli outbreak affecting at least eight people across three states has been linked to pre-chopped salad kits, federal health officials announced this week.

In a Monday food safety alert posted to its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp salad kits are linked to the outbreak that has hospitalized at least three people. No deaths have been reported at this time, though one person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, as per the CDC.

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So far, residents in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin have been affected.

As of now, it’s not clear what ingredient within the salad kits is causing the illnesses. However, federal officials are concerned that romaine lettuce is the culprit, as it is an ingredient in the kits and there is a current E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas, Calif., growing region.

An example of an affected salad kit.

An example of an affected salad kit. (CDC)

Affected products can be identified by UPC  0 71279 30906 4, beginning with lot code Z, and a best-before date up to and including Dec. 7, 2019.

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Consumers currently in possession of a Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp salad kit should throw it away. The CDC also recommends sanitizing the refrigerator shelf or drawer where the product was kept.

Symptoms of E. coli usually set in two to eight days after consuming the contaminated food and is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample. Patients may experience severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting while others may develop a fever.

Most recover within five to seven days, but others may develop symptoms that become severe or even life-threatening. About 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with E. coli go on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, which requires hospitalization.