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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing a nationwide warning to consumers against eating certain pre-packaged Dole salad products because these products have been associated with an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Minnesota. The affected products include three brand names and are labeled with "best-if-used by" dates, as listed below, and a production code beginning with "B250."
Illnesses have been associated with consumption of Dole salad products purchased from a single grocery store chain, Rainbow Foods, in its Minnesota locations. However, salad products containing the affected production codes are also distributed nationwide.
The three prepackaged salad products involved are:
Classic Romaine - with a "best-if-used-by (BIUB)" date of September 23, 2005 and a production code beginning with "B250."
American Blend - with a "best-if-used-by (BIUB)" date of September 23, 2005 and a production code beginning with "B250."
Greener Selection - with a "best-if-used-by (BIUB)" date of September 22, 2005, and a production code beginning with "B250."
The "best-if-used-by" code date can be located in the upper right hand corner of the front of the bag. While it is unlikely that stores still have this product on their shelves, consumers may have product in their refrigerators. Consumers who have any of the three packaged salads listed should dispose of the product.
"Given the severity of this illness, FDA believes an urgent warning to consumers is needed. FDA is working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our state partners to further identify the source of the problem and its scope," said Dr. Robert Brackett, Director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
At this time, no other Dole salad products are involved and Dole Food Company has issued a recall for the implicated salad products. Dole is working cooperatively with the FDA to minimize any further risk to consumers.
E. coli O157:H7 infection often causes severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps; sometimes the infection causes non-bloody diarrhea or no symptoms. Usually little or no fever is present, and the illness resolves in five to ten days. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, in some persons, particularly children under five years of age and the elderly, the infection can also cause a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
To date there have been reports of 11 cases of illness attributed to E. coli O157 in Minnesota. Of these 11 cases, two individuals have been hospitalized. The latest reported illness was September 19, 2005.
Individuals who may have experienced any of the aforementioned symptoms after eating these salad products should contact their physician or local department of health.