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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 19th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 42 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 42

E. coli found in Adam Brothers reservoir prompts recall

By Kasey Bubnash

An E. coli outbreak present in romaine lettuce that has caused 59 reported cases of illness and 23 hospitalizations in 15 states was linked back to Adam Brothers Farming Inc. 

The Santa Maria farm is voluntarily recalling all red and green leaf lettuce and cauliflower that was harvested from Nov. 27 to 30 in cooperation with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into the outbreak, according to an Adam Brothers press release from Dec. 13

The recall was initiated after sediment from a reservoir near Adam Brothers produce tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, the same strain that was first reported to be present in romaine lettuce in early October and has since impacted scores of individuals in multiple states. While Adam Brothers stated in the release that filtered and treated water from the reservoir may have come in contact with the farm's produce after it was harvested, none of the filtered water has tested positive for E. coli. 

Adam Brothers Farming Inc. announced on Dec. 13 that sediment in a water reservoir near the farm’s produce tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, the same strain that was first reported to be present in romaine lettuce in early October and has since impacted scores of individuals in multiple states.

"Adam Bros. Farming Inc. feels a strong commitment to its customers and has worked for years to provide a safe and healthy food supply," the release reads. 

Still, the organization says the recalled products should not be eaten, sold, or transferred, and its customers should notify other consumers or businesses of the recall. The press release also encourages consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products to return them to the place of purchase or destroy them. 

Adam Brothers Farming, which is run by 4th District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam and his brothers Dominic and Kieran, did not respond to a request for comment. Officials of Supervisor Adam's office declined to comment and said all requests for information about the E. coli outbreak had to go to the farm's employees. 

Adam Brothers Farming was one of eight farms identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA in a traceback investigation. While the strain of E. coli discovered in the Adam Brothers' reservoir was found to be closely related genetically to the strain found in ill people, it is likely that other farms have also contributed to the outbreak, and the CDC is recommending that people avoid buying, serving, selling, or eating romaine lettuce from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties. 

Peter Cassell, a spokesperson for the FDA, said in an email to the Sun that the organization is still investigating how the E. coli outbreak started and spread. More information will be released as it becomes available. Lettuce from San Luis Obispo County does not appear to be involved in the outbreak, according to the FDA. 

E. coli, according to the CDC, are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and the intestines of people and animals. Most E. coli are harmless and are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract, but some can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, and other illnesses. The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be spread through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.

About 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure that can cause infrequent urination, fatigue, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. 

During this particular outbreak, data collected by the CDC shows that roughly 46 percent of infected individuals were hospitalized, and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths have been reported so far.

Still, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has not recorded any reports of E. coli infections related to this particular outbreak, according to Public Information Officer Jackie Ruiz. While there were seven cases of E. coli infections in the county this year, Ruiz said they were all reported before the end of September, and not linked to this case. 

E. coli infection is a reportable illness, Ruiz said, so when any provider suspects that a patient in the area has contracted the illness, it is reported to the county's Public Health Department. So while it's something the county is always keeping an eye on, Ruiz said the Public Health Department is not involved in the current outbreak investigation. 

Consumers with questions about Adam Brothers Farming products can contact the company at (805) 925-0339.

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