Organic walnuts linked to E. coli infections in Washington, California

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise people to stop eating organic walnut halves and pieces sold in bulk at several stores in Washington because of possible contamination with E. coli bacteria.

According to a news release, at least 12 people in California and Washington state have been infected with E. coli bacteria after eating bulk organic walnut halves and pieces. Six of those people live in Washington. No one has died from their infection.

What to do:

• If you bought organic walnut halves and pieces from bulk containers, check the list of stores on the DOH Food Recalls and Alerts website to see if the walnuts might be part of the recall. Stores may repackage bulk walnuts into plastic clamshells or bags.

• Ask the store where you purchased your walnuts if they sold recalled walnuts if you are not sure.

• Stop eating and discard recalled walnuts, including those stored in your refrigerator or freezer. If you can’t tell if your walnuts are part of the recall, it’s safer not to eat them.

• Wash containers used to store the recalled walnuts and any surface they may have touched with hot soapy water or a dishwasher.

• Review DOH Food Safety Tips to learn about ways to protect yourself and others from foodborne illness.

• E. coli bacteria can cause severe or even life-threatening infections, usually starting three or four days after eating or drinking something contaminated. Symptoms include diarrhea (which is often bloody), severe abdominal pain, and vomiting. Most people get better in five to seven days, but children 5 years or younger are at higher risk of severe illness.

• Contact your healthcare provider if you ate a food that contains the recalled walnuts and develop symptoms of E. coli infection.

For more information visit:

FDA: Outbreak Investigation of Bulk Organic Walnuts

Gibson Farms Organic Walnuts Recall Notice

CDC Food Safety Alert

DOH Foodborne Outbreak website

DOH Food Recalls and Safety Alerts

DOH E. coli website

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