Concern Over E.Coli Outbreak Leads to Celery Recall at Major Grocery Stores

PHOTO:Celery is seen on a cutting board in this file photo. PlayGetty Images
WATCH Celery May Be to Blame in Ongoing E.coli Outbreak

A recall from an E.coli scare at Costco has now been expanded to more than a dozen states and over 155,000 products sold at major grocery chains, including Walmart and Safeway, according to a press release from Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. of Tracy, Calif., which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted on its site.

Last week Taylor Farms Pacific voluntarily recalled a number of products containing celery, including a mix of diced celery and onion used in Costco chicken salad, "out of an abundance of caution," according to its press release. It also said that the vegetable mix tested positive for a virulent form of E.coli in a sample tested by the Montana Department of Health.

Nineteen people in California, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Virginia and Washington have reported falling ill from eating the celery mix, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Major food retailers including Walmart, Sam's Club, Costco, Albertsons, 7-Eleven, Target and Safeway are part of the recall. A full list of the stores affected by the recall can be found on the FDA website here.

Health officials have urged consumers who bought chicken salad at any U.S. Costco store on or before Nov. 20 to throw it away out of precaution.

Although E.coli can live harmlessly in the gut, this strain of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli called O157:H7 can be particularly dangerous and can lead to kidney failure in about 6 to 9 percent of adult cases and 15 percent of cases in children, according to the CDC. Five people have been hospitalized, including two with kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. The elderly and young children are most at risk for developing kidney failure related to an E.coli infection.

Symptoms of E.coli infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. The incubation period is three to seven days from the time of exposure.

The number of people sickened in the outbreak will likely grow over the next few weeks, even though the product has been removed from store shelves, the CDC said Wednesday.

Health officials urge anyone with the symptoms, especially people who have eaten Costco chicken salad, to see their doctor.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story attributed the information about the expanded recall to the FDA. In fact, the information came from a press release from Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. which the FDA posted on its website. The FDA says it posts such notices as a service to consumers, the media and other interested parties.