Walnuts Recalled From Whole Foods After E. Coli Outbreak

A California company is recalling organic walnuts that were sold at natural food stores and coop retailers in 19 states because of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 12 people and hospitalized seven, federal officials said.

Gibson Farms, the company based in Hollister, Calif., is voluntarily recalling its shelled walnuts branded as Organic Light Halves and Pieces after discovering that the nuts could carry the E. coli strain 0157: H7 that “causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a notice on Tuesday.

The recall came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the company of 12 recorded illnesses that were linked to the walnuts. They were distributed at more than 300 food retailers, including Whole Foods Market, New Seasons Market and Rosauers Supermarkets, the F.D.A. said.

An investigation is underway to determine the potential source of the contamination, the F.D.A. said. The company did not immediately respond to inquiries on Wednesday.

E. coli symptoms can vary from person to person and may include cramping, diarrhea or gastrointestinal distress. Other common symptoms include vomiting and fever. People begin to feel symptoms three to four days after ingesting food or drinks containing the E. coli bacteria, according to the C.D.C.

A Whole Foods spokesman said the recalled walnuts were shipped to 10 of their Whole Foods Market stores across Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas and used only as an ingredient in a salad offered on salad bars in those stores. The salad item was removed from the salad bars and the recalled walnuts were destroyed immediately, the spokesman said.

A spokesman for New Seasons Market said the grocery store chain “promptly removed the affected product” from its shelves, adding it also “placed signage in the relevant sections to alert consumers who may have bought it.”

This particular strain of E. coli is associated with a toxin called Shiga that can cause bloody diarrhea and “for a small number of people, can cause severe disease,” Dr. Richard Ellison, an epidemiologist at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., said on Wednesday.

Although most healthy adults would fully recover within a week, some people may develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is most likely to occur in young children and older adults, the F.D.A. said in its notice.

Dr. Ellison said that about 90 percent of people will get better on their own without requiring antibiotics, and about 10 percent will develop the illness that can cause anemia and kidney damage.

“Generally, we recommend providing supportive care and keeping people well hydrated,” he added.

Consumers who have symptoms should contact their health care providers to receive care, the F.D.A. said.

So far, the people who were sickened in the outbreak have been in California and Washington State. No deaths have been reported.

The Organic Light Halves and Pieces were sold in bulk bins of 25-pound quantities, according to the F.D.A. The expiration dates for the affected product are between May 21, 2025, and June 7, 2025, the agency said.

A list of store locations where the walnuts were sold can be found on the F.D.A.’s website.

Consumers who bought the walnuts from bulk containers should check their pantries, refrigerators and freezers, and “not eat or use them,” the F.D.A. said. They should also “clean and sanitize surfaces” that came in contact with the product, the agency said.

Retailers that received the recalled products should discard the walnuts and sanitize bins before refilling them, the F.D.A. said.

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