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Walnut E. coli Outbreak

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on April 30, 2024

Put down those walnuts! Check your pantries. The FDA and CDC, in collaboration with state and local partners, announced they are  investigating illnesses in a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to organic walnuts from Gibson Farms, Inc. of Hollister, California that were distributed to multiple natural food and co-op stores in AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, LA, MT, NE, NM, NV, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, and WY and sold in bulk bins.  Here is everything we know about this Walnut E. coli Outbreak:

Walnut E. coli Outbreak

Fast Facts:

Total Illnesses: 12
Hospitalizations: 7
Deaths: 0
Last Illness Onset: April 4, 2024
States with Cases: CA, WA
Product Distribution*: AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, LA, MT, NE, NM, NV, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, and WY

*Distribution has been confirmed for states listed, but product could have been distributed further, reaching additional states

State and local public health officials have interviewed people about the foods they ate in the week before they became ill. Of the 10 people interviewed, all 10 (100%) reported eating walnuts, and almost all reported buying organic walnuts from bulk bins in food co-ops or natural food stores.

FDA’s traceback investigation identified Gibson Farms, Inc. as the common supplier of walnuts in this outbreak. On April 27, 2024, Gibson Farms, Inc. initiated a voluntary recall  and contacted their distributing customers. Distributors and retailers that may have received recalled bulk organic walnuts should follow the recommendations above and contact their customers.

FDA is working with the firm and its distributors to determine the source of contamination, whether additional products or states are affected, and retailers that received recalled product. This advisory will be updated as information becomes available.

Walnut E. coli Outbreak – Where Were They Sold?

Lots of places! Check out the FDA’s list of stores here. Among those listed include: Whole Foods, Lazy Acres Market, New Seasons Market, Rosauers Supermarkets, and many more.

Walnut E. coli Outbreak Recall

Yes, a recall has been initiated. Here’s what we know:

Gibson Farms, Inc. organic walnut halves and pieces

  • Sold in bulk bins
  • Expiration dates between May 21, 2025, and June 7, 2025
  • Distributed to natural food and co-op stores in AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, LA, MT, NE, NM, NV, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA and WY
  • Lot codes 3325-043 and 3341-501

Almost all sick people purchased organic walnuts from bulk bins in food co-ops or natural food stores in California and Washington.

Gibson Farms Organic Light Halves and Pieces shelled walnuts, Bulk Boxes, Net Wt. 25 lbs

CDC SAYS: What You Should Do

  • If you bought organic walnut halves and pieces from bulk containers, see if yours might be part of the recall. Check your pantries, refrigerators, and freezers for walnuts. If you can’t tell if it’s part of the recall, it’s safer not to eat them.
    • Ask the store where you purchased if recalled walnuts were sold.
    • Some stores may repackage bulk walnut halves and pieces into plastic clamshells or bags.
    • FDA has a list of stores that may have received these walnuts.
  • Wash items and surfaces that may have touched the walnuts using hot soapy water or a dishwasher.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these severe E. coli symptoms:
    • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
    • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
    • Bloody diarrhea
    • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
    • Signs of dehydration, such as:
      • Not peeing much
      • Dry mouth and throat
      • Feeling dizzy when standing up

FDA Recommendations

  • Retailers and distributors that purchased recalled boxes of Gibson Farms, Inc. organic walnuts halves and pieces with lot codes 3325-043 and 3341-501 should not sell this product and should notify their customers of the recall. Product was shipped to distributors between the dates of October 1, 2023, to April 24, 2024. These products have expiration dates of 5/21/25 & 6/7/25.
    • Retailers that have or had recalled product in bulk bins should discard the contents of the bins and use extra care to clean and sanitize the bins before refilling.
    • Retailers that are unsure if they received recalled product may need to contact their supplier. If you are unable to determine whether or not recalled product was received, you should discard the contents of the bins and use extra care to clean and sanitize the bins before refilling.
  • Consumers who purchased organic walnut halves and pieces from bulk bins at stores listed below should check their pantries, refrigerators, and freezers and should not eat the organic walnuts halves and pieces. If you have these products in your home, do not eat or use them, throw them away and clean and sanitize surfaces they touched.
  • Retailers, distributors, and consumers should follow FDA’s safe handling and cleaning advice and use extra care in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with this product to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have symptoms of an E. coli infection after eating organic walnuts.

What is E. coli?

What exactly is E. coli, and why is it dangerous?

E. coli is a bacterium that can be found in the digestive system of humans and animals. Certain E. coli strains, such as those in the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) category are harmful to humans.

When people ingest this bad bug, they become sick. Severity of infection can vary from person to person, ranging from mild to more severe.

Common symptoms include:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Vomiting

Some people may also experience a fever less than 101 °F. In most cases, people begin to feel sick around 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something contaminated with the bacteria. For many, these symptoms can persist around 5 to 7 days before feeling better.

Many people can recover on their own without medical intervention, however you should seek medical attention if you have diarrhea lasting more than 3 days and a fever above 102 °F, bloody diarrhea, or so much vomiting that you become dehydrated.

Some people may develop a serious complication known as HUS.

What is HUS?

Hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, is a type of kidney failure that develops in about 5 to 10% of those diagnosed with STEC infection. It is a potentially life-threatening complication that prevents the kidneys from working properly.

HUS symptoms include:

  • Decreased urination
  • Feeling very tired
  • Paleness in cheeks and inside lower eyelids

HUS symptoms usually begin about 7 days after initial diarrheal symptoms and begin as the original intestinal symptoms start to improve. Those experiencing HUS symptoms should see a healthcare professional right away.

While most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, some may suffer permanent damage or even die from the illness. These symptoms should be taken very seriously.

The Lange Law Firm Can Help

If you have become sick after eating walnuts and may be a part of the Walnut E. coli outbreak, you may have a legal case. The experienced E. coli lawyers at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC are committed to holding responsible those whose negligence has caused harm to others. If you have become sick from eating walnuts, reach out to The Lange Law Firm today by calling (833) 330-3663 or click here to fill out an online form.