Rich Products Corp. is recalling more than 10.5 million pounds of products produced at its Waycross, Ga., facility due to possible contamination with E. coli O121.
This recall is rated “High Risk” Class I in terms of seriousness given scope of the product distribution and the health risks associated with E.coli O121.
In Arkansas, the retail products were sold by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. according to the federal government website. The only other retail distributor of affected products in the natural state was Brookshire Brothers. Retailers have pulled the products from the shelves but consumers who purchased Farm Rich items should check their freezers against the full list of recalled items.
There have 24 cases of E.coli illness linked to these products over the past two weeks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported one illness in Arkansas, with others in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The products being recalled have “Best Buy” dates ranging from Jan. 1, 2013, to Sept. 29, 2014, including Farm Rich Mini Quesadillas, Farm Rich Mini Pizza Slices, Farm Rich Philly Cheese Steaks, Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites and Market Day Mozzarella Bites.
The company first announced the recall on March 28 to just include the specific products listed above, but the company then expanded the recall on April 4 to include all products produced at the Waycross facility.
“When it became apparent to us that, despite the expertise of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the scientific community and our own experts, identification of a specific cause was not going to be a simple or short process, we decided to act proactively to expand the recall,” said Bill Gisel, CEO and president of Rich Products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety division says there is a reasonable probability the use of the product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
The government was first notified of a multi-state investigation into E. coli O121 illness on March 19, and a sample Farm Rich frozen chicken mini quesadilla from New York tested positive for the contaminate.
A Farm Rich mini pepperoni pizza slice from Texas also tested positive for the same strain. Other cases in multiple states were linked to consumption of various Farm Rich products.
Symptoms of E. coli O121 generally include mild to severe gastrointestinal distress.
Most adults completely recover in 5 to 10 days, but some, especially children and the elderly, can develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which may cause kidney failure, according to health officials.