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E. coli Linked to Walnuts in San Diego Outbreak Has Sickened At Least 12 So Far

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on May 5, 2024

A recent outbreak of E. coli linked to walnuts in San Diego County has County Public Health officials telling residents to check their pantries. At least two people have fallen ill after consuming walnuts purchased from local stores and is associated with a national, multi-state outbreak.

E. coli Linked to Walnuts in San Diego

At least two people in San Diego County have become sickened with the same strain of E. coli as a national, multi-state outbreak linked to walnuts. One local person was hospitalized.

According to recall data, several San Diego County area natural food stores and co-ops received Gibson Farms recalled walnuts.

San Diego County Stores that Received Recalled Walnuts

At least 10 San Diego County stores received the recalled product. As of May 3, 2024, these stores have removed products from the sales floor and disinfected storage bins. However, some products may have already made it into local consumers’ homes.

These stores include:

  • Jimbos Naturally in San Diego (4S Ranch)
  • Jimbos Naturally in San Diego (Carmel Valley)
  • Jimbos Naturally in Carlsbad
  • Jimbos Naturally in Escondido
  • Lazy Acres Market in San Diego
  • Lazy Acres Market in Carlsbad
  • Ocean Beach Co-Op
  • Frazier Farms Markets in La Mesa
  • Frazier Farms Markets in Vista
  • Sun Organic Farm in San Marcos

Recalled products were sold in halves and in pieces in bulk bins as early as October 1, 2023. Some stores may have repacked the walnuts or sold them in individual bags for consumer convenience.

If you may have purchased these recalled walnuts, do not eat them. If you are unsure if the walnuts you purchased are part of the recall, do not eat them.

Public Health Officer Urges Those Affected by E. coli Linked to Walnuts in San Diego County to Seek Medical Attention.

In a statement, San Deigo Public Health officer urges anyone potentially sickened from these products to seek medical attention right away.

“If you or a loved one are feeling sick, contact your doctor as soon as possible,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The E. coli bacteria can cause serious kidney problems that require hospitalization, so it is important to get care promptly.”

So Far 12 Connected Cases Linked to Walnut E. coli Outbreak

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are at least 12 cases from two states with the same outbreak strain of E. coli.

So far, seven people have been hospitalized. Two of which have developed a serious complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome.

No deaths have been reported at this time.

People started falling ill around February 1, 2024, with the last reported onset of April 4, 2024. However, there could be more illnesses connected to the outbreak. It can take several weeks for an illness to be linked to an ongoing outbreak investigation.

So far, almost all of those involved in the outbreak have reported purchasing organic walnuts from bulk bins in natural food stores or food co-ops in the states of California and Washington.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that Gibson Farms, Inc supplied these walnuts to those stores. A recall has been initiated.

Gibson Farms, Inc. Walnut Recall Details

Gibson Farms, Inc issued a recall for their organic walnut halves and pieces sold to natural food and co-op stores for sale in bulk bins.

Affected product was distributed to stores in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

A complete list of stores that received recalled product can be found here.

Affected products include lot codes: 3325-043 and 3341-501 with expiration dates between May 21, 2025, and June 7, 2025.

E. coli Infections Can Cause Serious, Even Life-Threatening Illness!

E. coli is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of people and animals. While most strains of E. coli bacteria are harmless, the ones involved in the outbreak of E. coli linked to walnuts in San Diego County are quite dangerous.

This E. coli bacteria is a type of toxin-producing bacteria known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC for short.

STEC Symptoms

Symptoms of E. coli or STEC infections can vary from mild to severe. People usually begin feeling sick around three to four days after eating something contaminated with the pathogen, however some may feel sick as early as one day or as late as 10 or more days after exposure.

Common symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. In some cases, people with STEC infections may experience a low-grade fever (less than 101 °F).

Most people begin to feel better within a week (five to seven days). However, some people (usually the elderly, young children, or the immunocompromised) go on to experience serious complications. Namely, hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, is a type of complication associated with toxin-producing bacteria – such as STEC. About 5 to 10% of those diagnosed will develop HUS.

The toxin breaks down blood cells circulating in the body. These broken blood cells clog the filtering activities of the kidneys, resulting in a type of kidney failure that can be fatal without hospitalization and prompt treatment.

HUS symptoms often appear just as diarrheal symptoms begin to improve.

Common HUS symptoms include decreased urination, paleness in cheeks and the inside of lower eyelids, and fatigue.

While most people recover within a few weeks with prompt medical care, others may suffer more permanent damage or even death from HUS related complications.

What Should You Do If You Purchased Recalled Products Related to the Outbreak Involving E. coli Linked to Walnuts in San Diego County?

If you purchased bulk organic walnut halves or pieces, your product may be part of the recall. Check the recall list carefully or reach out to the place of purchase to confirm. When in doubt, do not consume bulk walnut halves or pieces.

If you discover you have recalled product, there are a few things you can do to help minimize risk and contribute to the best possible outcome.

Wash Items and Surfaces That May Have Come in Contact with E. coli Linked to Walnuts in San Diego County

From counter tops to utensils, to pantry surfaces, and containers. Wash and/or sanitize anything that has come in contact with the potentially tainted walnuts. Place items in dishwasher, use hot soapy water, or an approved sanitizer (following contact times for sanitizer).

Call Your Healthcare Provider If You Have Severe E. coli Symptoms

Do not hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider if you experience severe symptoms. STEC infections can take a turn for the worse rather quickly. Pay close attention to HUS symptoms, as prompt hospitalization may improve your outcome.

Get Advice

If you have become sick and are part of the outbreak of E. coli linked to walnuts in San Diego County, it is a good idea to get advice from an E. coli Lawyer.

The experienced E. coli Lawyers at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC can go over the details of your situation to determine if you have a case. Medical bills, lost wages, care of a loved one, and more all add up. Reach out for a free consultation by calling (833) 330-3663 or fill out an online submission form for more information.

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)