The CDC reports that as of October 7 2022, 20 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 have been reported from 6 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 13, 2022, to September 13, 2022.
Sick people range in age from less than 1 to 71 years, with a median age of 31, and 79% are female. Of 14 people with information available, 5 have been hospitalized, including 1 who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can cause kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for E. coli. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. Among 18 people interviewed, 15 reported shopping at ALDI stores. Among these 15 ALDI shoppers, 6 reported eating Earth Grown brand frozen falafel purchased from ALDI in the week before getting sick.
DNA fingerprinting is performed on bacteria using a method called whole genome sequencing (WGS).
WGS showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples are closely related genetically. This suggests that people in this outbreak got sick from the same food.
Cuisine Innovations Unlimited, LLC of 180 Lehigh Avenue, Lakewood, NJ, is voluntarily recalling its Earth Grown Vegan Traditional Falafel and Garlic & Herb Falafel Distributed & Sold Exclusively by Aldi, Batavia, IL due to the possible presence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.
Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli is an organism that can cause foodborne illness in a person who eats a food item contaminated with it. Symptoms of infection may include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. The illness primarily impacts elderly individuals, children, and people with weakened immune systems. Most healthy adults and children rarely become seriously ill.
The voluntarily recalled Earth Grown Vegan Traditional Falafel And Garlic & Herb Falafel Distributed & Sold Exclusively by Aldi, Batavia, IL were distributed in ALDI retail stores in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The product comes in a bag in a box marked with any of the following Lot numbers: 1472, 1481, 1531, 1532, 1541, 1552, 1561, 1581, 1601, 1611, 1612, 1661, 1682, 1732, 1752, 1762, 1782, 1802, and 1812, and would have been shipped to stores after June 24, 2021. The lot number can be found in the “Best if used by” area on the outside flap of the box. There has been no further production of this product.