A multi-state E. coli outbreak is likely a result of contaminated I.M. Healthy brand soy nut butter and consumers should avoid eating the product until further notice, according to public health officials.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene posted a consumer warning about the I.M. Healthy brand soy nut butter today. The state is working with other as yet unnamed states and the federal Centers for Disease Control to confirm the connection between the soy nut butter and illnesses.
The CDC confirmed Wednesday that it is investigating 10 E. coli illnesses across four states and that victims are being interviewed about possible foodborne sources. Early this evening the Food and Drug Administration also confirmed their involvement in the outbreak investigation.
“Health and Mental Hygiene is working with other states, CDC, and the FDA to investigate a multi-state cluster of E. coli O157 infections,” the Maryland department reported in its consumer warning.
“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.”
Public health officials are concerned that consumers may have the I.M. Healthy soy nut butter and soy nut butter-containing products in their homes and are urging people to not eat any of the products.
The products were “distributed to a range of stores in Maryland and are also available for purchase online,” the Maryland warning states. “Due to their long shelf life, consumers should check for these products and not eat these products until further notice.”
A spokeswoman for I.M. Healthy who would only identify herself as “Marsha” told Food Safety News this morning that the company had not been contacted by anyone from the CDC or any other agency about a possible problem with the company’s products.
“We would be the first to know if there was a problem,” the I.M. Healthy spokeswoman said. “The CDC would call us first.”
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