Published Date: 2003-10-09 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> E. coli O157, salad - USA (CA)
Archive Number: 20031009.2542
E. COLI O157, SALAD - USA (CALIFORNIA)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2003 08:56:26 -0700
From: Frank Myers <Myers.Frank@scrippshealth.org>
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune 9 Oct 2003 [edited]
E. coli outbreak at schools, cafes called under control
The suppliers of salad mix linked to an outbreak of _E. coli_ food
poisoning yesterday voluntarily recalled their product from the Alpine and
San Marcos school districts as well as Pat & Oscar's restaurants, county
health officials said.
"Things are under control," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, deputy health
officer for San Diego County. "We have moved very quickly to identify
common sources and are taking necessary precautions to protect the
County officials said that as of late yesterday, 20 people -- most of
them children -- have become ill with the potentially lethal strain of
_E. coli_ O157:H7 after eating salad made from a mix purchased from
one packaging company and one distribution company.
Of those 20, 16 patients in San Diego County are 3 employees of Pat &
Oscar's, 12 people who ate at one of the chain's San Diego County
restaurants, and a child who was sickened from eating salad served at
one of the school districts. The other 4 patients live in Orange County
and ate at Pat & Oscar's in Santa Ana or Irvine. Nearly all were
hospitalized for at least a day and some are still in the hospital but are
expected to recover, health officials said.
Pam McCoy, director of child nutrition services for San Marcos
Unified, identified the companies involved with the product as Family
Tree of Orange County and Gold Coast. It was unknown where Gold
Coast was based. Family Tree picked up the products and replaced them
with fresh produce from another company at the 12 schools it supplied
within the district, she said.
Wooten confirmed that state and federal food and drug officials have
examined those 2 companies. The officials now are looking at a Northern
California farm where the lettuce was grown for the possible source of
contamination. State officials declined to comment on the investigation
County officials said they believe regular shoppers do not need to be
concerned about buying contaminated lettuce. "We're pretty sure that
none of this product made its way to grocery stores, just
to Pat & Oscar's and the school districts in San Diego County,"
county spokeswoman Linda Miller said.
The recalled bags have an expiration date of 13 Oct 2003, she
Steven Fink, spokesman for the chain of 21 Pat & Oscar's
Southern California restaurants, said yesterday, "We believe we
have isolated the problem to one supplier but that's not been
confirmed." He said the company now is using a different supplier
for the salad mix.
Scott Barr, an Alpine school board member, said late yesterday
that 2 kindergartners from Alpine's Creekside Early Learning
Center became ill last week with food poisoning. It could not be
determined whether the children got it from the contaminated
lettuce, however, he said.
Parents received letters informing them of the possible contamination
yesterday. The letter said the children are recovering.
[Byline: Cheryl Clark]
[Classically, _E. coli_ O157:H7 is transmitted to humans from
undercooked ground beef. Adequately cooking the meat and using good
kitchen hygiene to prevent contamination will prevent transmission.
Unfortunately, as seen in this posting and others in the past, other
material can be contaminated, including salad ingredients or
unpasteurized apple juice. - Mod.LL]