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Celery blend in grocery deli items recalled for E. coli

At least 19 people in seven states have been sickened by prepared foods containing the contaminated celery.

By
Stephen Feller
Most people treated for infection by the E.coli bacteria reported eating chicken salad from Costco, although a celery and onion blend being blamed for the outbreak was sold to grocery stores across the country for use in prepared deli foods. Photo by tishomir/Shutterstock
Most people treated for infection by the E.coli bacteria reported eating chicken salad from Costco, although a celery and onion blend being blamed for the outbreak was sold to grocery stores across the country for use in prepared deli foods. Photo by tishomir/Shutterstock

SILVER SPRING, Md., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A California company is recalling all products containing a celery and onion diced blend that tested positive for E. coli contamination after 19 people in seven states got sick. Five people have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak, two with severe kidney problems, however none have died.

Although the initial illnesses were linked to chicken salad sold at Costco, the blend's manufacturer, Taylor Farms Pacific, is acting "out of an abundance of caution" by recalling all of the blend, which was distributed to Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Safeway and other grocery stores for use in prepared deli foods.

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The Montana Department of Health warned Costco customers who purchased chicken salad at the story between October 18 and November 23 not to eat it. Use-by dates on products that may include the vegetables range from November 20 to December 8, according to a full list of the products included in a press release from the Food and Drug Administration.

Although the product has been recalled, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects the number of E. coli cases linked to the vegetable blend to grow during the next several weeks because of the wide number of stores and products it was likely used with.

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"This is a very bad strain," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, told CBS News. "This is one of those strains of E. coli that can result in subsequent kidney failure, especially among children. So it's a much more hazardous strain than the one that involved the Chipotle restaurants."

Infection by the Escherichia coli O157:H7 can cause severe diarrhea, anemia and kidney failure, as well as other symptoms depending on the type of E.coli, according to the CDC.

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