The recent E. coli recall has nationwide retailers quickly removing 155,000 food products from store shelves while federal and state health agencies are scrambling to name the source. Currently, many health authorities are pointing the finger at Taylor Farms as the source of the E. coli. However, the vegetable supplier may not be the final culprit.
In a recent Inquisitr report, Costco Wholesale initiated a nationwide recall of rotisserie chicken salad after several people in four western states became ill with an E. coli infection. Health experts believe a celery and onion mix used to make the chicken salad is the source of the deadly bacteria.
Now, health authorities say the E. coli outbreak is linked to a celery blend produced by Taylor Farms Pacific in Tracy, California. As a precautionary measure, the company has since recalled the potentially tainted vegetable mix as well as hundreds of additional products.
However, Taylor Farms CEO Bruce Taylor says health officials may be jumping to conclusions.
When Montana health authorities tested the samples taken from ill consumers, they found a strain of bacteria known as E. coli 0157:H7. Yet, it has not been verified that this is the same strain found when the Taylor Farms celery was tested. DNA analysis must be done in order to determine an exact match.
Taylor wants more information and testing done before implicating his company in the E. coli recall.
“Since the state of Montana’s initial preliminary findings, the state lab has not been able to confirm the existence of E. coli in their sample and has not been able to gain any information or link. Normally, this would take three or four days, which would have been last Saturday or Sunday, for results. Today, it looks like a false alarm.”
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the sample of celery tested was processed by Taylor Farms on November 13 after the E. coli outbreak started sending people to the hospital.
This didn’t stop the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from announcing that Taylor Farms was the source. The CDC indicated that “preliminary laboratory evidence” showed E. coli 0157:H7 may be present in the diced celery and onion blend made at the farm.
Yet, the CDC is still testing samples, which will include performing a DNA examination.
Attorney Thinks E. Coli Recall Source Still Unknown
On October 18, Kelsey Lee Thielbahr purchased rotisserie chicken salad from a Costco in Bozeman, Montana. She subsequently got sick after eating the product. Upon testing, the Montana Department of Public Heath discovered E. coli in the onion and celery mix used to make the chicken salad.
Since then, 19 people have become ill, five people have been hospitalized, and two have developed kidney failure since the E. coli recall. Fox News reports that this strain of the bacteria is much more dangerous than the one found during the Chipotle outbreak investigation.
Brendan Flaherty, an attorney representing Thielbahr and several other clients in Montana and Washington, isn’t convinced that Taylor Farms is the source. He speculates that a yet-to-be-named grower may have sold Taylor the contaminated goods.
Hundreds of growers in California and Mexico supply produce to the Salinas-based farm.
“This is important because it will show how good a job Taylor Farms is doing in tracking their products,” Flaherty said.
According to health agencies investigating the E. coli recall, Taylor Farms has been extremely compliant while testing is being conducted and have voluntarily recalled products as a measure of caution. Any consumers or retailers who have processed celery products need to review the list of recalled items and immediately dispose of the unused product.
The E. coli recall includes any prepared food, vegetable trays, and salad kits that may include the tainted celery mix. Large, nationwide retailers, including Walmart, Target, 7-Eleven, Costco, and Starbucks, have removed products due to possible bacterial contamination.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]