State health officials are investigating 11 cases of E. coli infection in Minnesota. Victims ate prepackaged Dole lettuce purchased from at least four different Rainbow Foods stores in the Twin Cities area between September 13 and 16. Two have been hospitalized.
Kirk Smith, a foodborne disease specialist with the Minnesota Department of Health, said “It is possible that other residents have purchased Dole prepackaged lettuce mixes with the ‘Best if Used by 09/23/05′ date and may still have them in their refrigerators. If they do, they should not eat the lettuce mix, but discard it.”
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the outbreak and is working with Roundy’s, Inc., Rainbow Foods’ parent company, to determine the distribution of the product in Minnesota.
Symptoms of E. coli illness include stomach cramps and diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea may develop. E. coli disease sometimes leads to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause kidney failure. People typically become ill two to five days after eating contaminated food.
E. coli should not be treated with antibiotics, which can cause additional complications.