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Rich Products Corporation (Buffalo, NY) has recalled more than 196,000 pounds of frozen chicken quesadilla and various other heat-treated, not fully cooked frozen mini meals and snack items in the wake of an outbreak of 24 confirmed cases of E. coli O121 illnesses in 15 US states.

Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Michigan (2), Mississippi (1), New York (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (3), Utah (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2) reported illnesses to CDC. More than three-fourths (78%) of the victims are under 21 years of age; seven people were hospitalized.

Eight of the outbreak victims – residents of Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia – reported consuming Farm Rich brand products. The New York Department of Health found the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 in a sample of Farm Rich frozen chicken mini quesadilla product obtained from a victim in that state. USDA is working with state and federal public health agencies – including FDA and CDC – on this outbreak investigation. CDC has not yet released a complete list of the 15 states.

E. coli O121 is one of six non-O157 Shiga toxin producing E. coli serogroups that is recognized by the USDA as an adulterant in certain raw beef products.

The manufacturer has recalled the following products in cooperation with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (items 1-4) and FDA (items 5-7):

  1. Farm Rich mini pizza slices with cheese pepperoni and sauce in pizza dough (7.2-oz cartons; UPC 041322376909; Best by date May 15 or May 16, 2014)
  2. Farm Rich mini pizza slices with cheese pepperoni and sauce in pizza dough (22-oz cartons; UPC 041322356437 Best by date May 15 or May 16, 2014)
  3. Farm Rich mini quesadillas with cheese, grilled white meat chicken in a crispy crust (18-oz bags; UPC 041322356352; Best by date of May 14, 2014)
  4. Farm Rich philly cheese steaks with cheese, beef & onions in a crispy crust (21-oz bags; UPC 041322356345; Best by date May 13, 2014)
  5. Farm Rich mozzarella bites in a pizzeria style crust (22-oz cartons; UPC 041322374431; Best by date of May 19, 2014)
  6. Farm Rich mozzarella bites in a pizzeria style crust (7-oz cartons; UPC 041322376916; Best by date of May 19, 2014)
  7. Market Day Mozzarella Bites (22-oz bags; UPC 041322804358; Best by date of May 12, 2014)

The recalled products were manufactured between November 12, 2012 and November 19, 2012 and supplied several major retail chains for distribution nationwide, including: Food City, Giant Eagle, Hannaford, Kroger, ShopRite, Spartan Stores and it’s affiliated chains, Tops, Walmart (nationwide), Wegmans, Winn-Dixie (South Florida stores), and various independent grocery stores. Other retailers also may have carried the recalled products. Consumers who may have purchased any of the recalled products should check their freezers and discard these items, or return them to the retailer.

According to USDA, infection with E. coli O121 can result in dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days, on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called HUS, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. Symptoms of HUS may include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, decreased urination, and swelling. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.