The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is warning consumers not to eat “I.M. Healthy” brand soy nut butter and soy nut butter-containing products from “The SoyNut Butter Company” until further notice because of possible contamination with E. coli O157 bacteria. This strain of E. coli can cause disease by making a toxin called Shiga toxin. These bacteria are referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC.
Health and Mental Hygiene is working with other states, CDC, and the FDA to investigate a multistate cluster of E. coli O157 infections. These infections are closely related genetically, indicating a likely common source, such as food. The investigation is ongoing, however, the Maryland patient consumed “I. M. Healthy” soy nut butter prior to becoming ill and cases in other states might also be associated with this product.
Some types of STEC frequently cause severe disease, including bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. Sometimes infection causes non-bloody diarrhea or no symptoms. Symptoms typically begin within 3 to 4 days, but can range from 1 to 10 days, after exposure. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a serious complication that occurs in some infected people, particularly children under 5 and the elderly. In this syndrome, red blood cells are destroyed and kidney failure occurs. Anyone suspecting STEC infection should contact their healthcare provider.
The I.M. Healthy soy nut butter and soy nut butter-containing products have been distributed to a range of stores in Maryland and are also available for purchase online. Due to their long shelf life, consumers should check for these products and not eat these products until further notice.