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Officials interview E. coli patients

  |   April 2, 2013 at 3:06 PM
ATLANTA, April 2 (UPI) -- Twenty-four people in 15 states are infected with E. coli O121 and Farm Rich brand frozen food products is one likely source, U.S. health officials say.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said federal and state public health officials are interviewing ill persons to obtain information regarding foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness.

Testing conducted by the New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center Laboratory in Albany, N.Y., identified the outbreak strain of STEC O121 in an open package of Farm Rich brand frozen chicken quesadillas from an ill person's home.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are also currently conducting investigations to determine the source of infections in this outbreak, the CDC said.

The CDC said 78 percent of ill the persons were age 21 or younger and 33 percent of ill persons were hospitalized. One ill person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, but no deaths were reported, the CDC said.

Rich Products Corp., in Buffalo, N.Y., the parent company of Farm Rich issued a voluntary recall last Thursday of approximately 196,222 pounds of Farm Rich brand frozen chicken quesadillas and several other frozen mini meals and snack items because they might be contaminated with E. coli O121.

Included in the recall were: Farm Rich Mini Quesadillas, Farm Rich Mini Pizza Slices, Farm Rich Philly Cheese Steaks, Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites and Market Day Mozzarella Bites produced from Nov. 12, 2012 to Nov. 19, 2012 due to possible contamination with E. coli O121 bacteria. All have a "best buy" date of May 12 to May 19.

The Farm Rich products were distributed in retail stores nationwide.

Market Day, a fundraising food cooperative, distributed the Mozzarella Bites. These products are partially baked, dough enrobed, snack items that consumers bake or microwave at home.

Rich officials said they notified all of its distributors and retailers that received these products and directed them to remove and destroy the affected product. Consumers are asked to check their freezers for the recalled products.

Consumers who have purchased these Farm Rich products and have questions should contact Farm Rich Consumer Relations at 1-888-220-5955 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, or visit the website at farmrich.com.

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