E. coli out­break shuts down soy nut pro­ces­sor

FDA links 29 ill­nesses to plant in Ken­tucky

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LAURA KELLY

An E. coli out­break that has sick­ened 29 peo­ple in 12 states has been linked to soy nut but­ter prod­ucts from a Ken­tucky-based pro­cess­ing plant.

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion has sus­pended pro­duc­tion at Dixie Dew Prod­ucts in Er­langer, Ken­tucky. The FDA iden­ti­fied Dixie Dew as the most likely source of E. coli con­tam­i­na­tion in I.M. Healthy SoyNut but­ter prod­ucts.

So far, the out­break has sick­ened 29 peo­ple, 12 of whom have been hos­pi­tal­ized. The most re­cently re­ported case is a teenage girl in Mana­tee County, Florida, who has been hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter con­sum­ing an I.M. Healthy SoyNut But­ter prod­uct.

The Braden­ton Her­ald re­ported Sun­day that Lily O’Neal, 14, suf­fered kid­ney fail­ure, fell into a coma and suf­fered tem­po­rary paral­y­sis over a month­long pe­riod. Her mother said the family re­al­ized they had pur­chased one of the I.M. Healthy prod­ucts at a lo­cal su­per­mar­ket.

The foods be­lieved to be con­tam­i­nated with E. coli in­clude I.M. Healthy Gra­nola prod­ucts, Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit But­ter, and Yo­gurt Peanut Crunch Bars.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion urges the pub­lic to dis­pose of any of these prod­ucts in their homes, ei­ther by re­turn­ing them to the store where they were pur­chased or dis­card­ing them in a sealed plas­tic bag.

Prod­ucts were dis­trib­uted in several states, were avail­able for pur­chase in stores or on­line, and were dis­trib­uted to child care cen­ters and schools in mul­ti­ple states, the com­pany wrote in its re­call.

In early March, the FDA alerted the I.M. Healthy SoyNut But­ter com­pany about the con­tam­i­na­tion, and the com­pany is­sued a re­call of some of its prod­ucts.

The FDA linked the con­tam­i­nated prod­ucts to the Dixie Dew pro­cess­ing plant, and an in­spec­tion visit in early March re­vealed egre­gious health vi­o­la­tions jus­ti­fy­ing the plant’s shut­down.

Dur­ing a seven-day visit, FDA in­spec­tors noted ro­dent and fly in­fes­ta­tion, heav­ily soiled man­u­fac­tur­ing and clean­ing equip­ment, a bro­ken soap dis­penser and no hot wa­ter for employees to wash their hands, among other vi­o­la­tions.

In ad­di­tion to pro­duc­ing al­ter­na­tive peanut prod­ucts, Dixie Dew makes mari­nara sauces, meat glazes, dry-mix prod­ucts and the Harry’s Choice choco­late and caramel dessert top­pings, its web­site states. The com­pany says it doesn’t list the names of the prod­ucts be­cause of client con­fi­den­tial­ity.

E. coli is a bac­terium that af­fects the di­ges­tive sys­tem, most fre­quently caus­ing di­ar­rhea and bloody stool, the FDA says on its web­site.

The CDC iden­ti­fied the par­tic­u­lar strain as Shiga toxin-pro­duc­ing E. coli. While the ill­ness usu­ally re­solves it­self in a week, the most ex­treme cases can lead to hemolytic ure­mic syn­drome. This can cause per­ma­nent dam­age to the kid­neys and even death. Chil­dren and the el­derly are the most vul­ner­a­ble.

No deaths have been re­ported, but the CDC said nine peo­ple were hos­pi­tal­ized for hemolytic ure­mic syn­drome and 24 of the cases in­volved peo­ple younger than 18.

Ill­nesses linked to E. coli were re­ported for nine peo­ple in Ore­gon, five in Cal­i­for­nia, four in Ari­zona, two in Washington and Vir­ginia each, and one case each re­ported in Florida, Illi­nois, Massachusetts, Mary­land, Mis­souri, New Jer­sey and Wis­con­sin.

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