In late March 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced than an outbreak of E. coli O121 was underway. The CDC, the US Department of Agriculture USDA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and public health officials in multiple states were involved in the investigation. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations implicated Farm Rich brand frozen food products as the likely source of the outbreak. On March 28, 2013 Rich Products Corporation recalled approximately 196,222 pounds of Farm Rich brand frozen chicken quesadillas and several other frozen mini meals and snack items due to possible contamination with E. coli O121. The recall was expanded on April 4 to include all Farm Rich, Market Day, and Schwan’s brand frozen food products produced at its Waycross, Georgia plant between July 1, 2011 and March 29, 2013. The recalls were prompted by isolation of the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 in two different Farm Rich frozen products collected from the home of two ill persons in New York and Texas.
A total of 35 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 were reported in 19 states including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Illness onset dates range from December 30, 2012 to April 15, 2013. Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year to 75 years, with a median age of 17 years. Among 29 persons for whom information was available, 9 (31%) were hospitalized. Two ill people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). On May 30, 2013 the CDC declared the outbreak over, although due to the long shelf life of the contaminated product, concern about additional cases in the future was noted.
Marler Clark represented 6 individuals affected by the outbreak, achieving settlements covering medical expenses and lost income.