Thursday, April 4, 2013


Currently there is a huge recall of frozen food products in the United States because of a bacterium called E.coli 0121. Farm Rich brand frozen food products is the likely source of this outbreak. Today it expanded its recall to include over 30 new items - some sold directly to consumers and others to the food service industry.

This is, as far as I know, the first food recall in the U.S. linked to E.coli 0121. But the bacterium may be less rare that we think. And there are probably many times more illnesses caused by it, including from the currently recalled foods, than we are aware of.

E.coli 0121 is a type of bacteria referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC. Like E.coli 0157 (the most common serotype in the U.S). It can give you bloody diarrhea and even lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure that can be fatal, particularly with infants, the elderly, and people who are weak or ill to begin with.

What is frightening, is that the clinical laboratories to which doctors send stool samples don't regularly check for this particular E.coli. They can't do it for every single deadly bacterium, as it simply gets too costly.

However, there has been some progress in recent years. Some, but not all U.S. clinical laboratories, now test the stool samples for the presence of Shiga toxins. If the tests then don't turn up positive for 0157 STEC, the sample has to be sent to a public health laboratory (which are better equipped) to look for a non-O157 STEC - that is, bacteria like this one. Even when everything happens as it should do, this all takes time.

Check your freezer against the list of recalled products (( and retailers that sold them (see the USDA list at: It's better to be safe than sorry.

To your good health,


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