September 30, 2005
State health officials are investigating 11 cases of E. coli O157:H7 disease in Minnesota residents who ate prepackaged Dole lettuce purchased from at least four different Rainbow Foods stores in the Twin Cities area between September 13 and 16.
Investigators with the Minnesota Department of Health determined that all of the cases became ill between September 16 and 19. Two were hospitalized. The cases range in age from 3 to 68 years of age. Nine of the 11 people had eaten either the Classic Romaine variety, the American Blend, or Greener Selection, all of which have Romaine lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots in common. The packages have the stamp “Best if Used by 09/23/05” and a production code beginning with “B250…” on them.
“It is possible that other residents have purchased Dole prepackaged lettuce mixes with the ‘Best if Used by 09/23/05’ date and may still have them in their refrigerators. If they do, they should not eat the lettuce mix, but discard it,” said Kirk Smith, a foodborne disease specialist with the Minnesota Department of Health.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the outbreak and is working with Roundy’s, Inc., Rainbow Foods’ parent company, to determine the distribution of the product in Minnesota.
While it is not likely that stores still have the product on their shelves, the MDA is recommending that stores pull the product with the 09/23/05 date from the shelves. At this time, there is no evidence that any other lot numbers of this product are associated with illness, health officials said.
Symptoms of E. coli illness include stomach cramps and diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea may develop. E. coli disease sometimes leads to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure. People typically become ill two to five days after eating contaminated food. E. coli disease should not be treated with antibiotics, which can cause additional complications.
People who have developed those symptoms after consuming this product should contact their physician, and the Minnesota Department of Health at 612-676-5414 from 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday.