E. coli from Costco chicken salad traced to tainted celery

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E. Coli Cases Linked to Costco

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A multi-state E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 19 people who ate rotisserie chicken salad sold at Costco Wholesale Corp's stores has been traced to a celery-and-onion mix used in the salad, prompting its California maker to recall the product.

The recall notice, posted on Thursday on the website of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said a sample of the diced vegetable blend examined by Montana state health authorities tested positive for the E. coli O157:H7 strain behind the recent outbreak.

See more about the E. coli outbreaks below:

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E. coli from Costco chicken salad traced to tainted celery
BOSTON - AUGUST 23: Colony of E. coli cells are grown in the synthetic biology lab at Harvard Medical School in Boston on Tuesday, August 23 2011. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
ELIOT, ME - MAY 26: Kyler Dove, a seventh grader at Marshwood Middle School in Eliot, stops to take a drink from one of the 11,520 water bottles donated to the school Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by Cumberland Farms. Home Depot and Hannaford have also made donations to the school as it manages the current E coli scare. (Photo by Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - MAY 23: A shopper looks for bottled water on nearly empty shelves at a New Seasons Supermarket May 23, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. Oregon health officials ordered Portland to issue a boil-water alert after three separate samples tested positive for E. coli, a bacterium that can cause severe gastrointestinal illness. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
Jack Kurtz, 10, right, and mother Paula Gillett pose for portrait in their Rockford, Illinois home, November 5, 2009. Jack recovered from a food-borne illness last year. The source of the E. coli that hospitalized him was never determined. (Photo by Lane Christiansen/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
Madison Sedbrook, 6, right, and her mother Cindy are in their home at Highlands Ranch on Tuesday. Madison's parents are suing because she got e coli from eating raw cookie dough recalled by Nestle. Hyoung Chang/ The Denver Post (Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - FEBRUARY 21: A BJ's Wholesale Club awaits customers on February 21, 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Yesterday, the giant wholesaler announced a voluntary recall of prepackaged Wellsley Farms mushrooms, due to possible trace amounts of E.coli. No cases of the illness have been reported. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
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The same strain, which can cause serious gastrointestinal illness, especially in young children and the elderly, is perhaps most often associated with the 1993 outbreak that killed four children who ate undercooked hamburgers at Jack in the Box fast-food restaurants.

At least five of the 19 people who have fallen ill this month have been hospitalized. Although no deaths have been reported, two individuals developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a type of kidney failure that can lead to permanent organ damage.

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Infections have been reported in Montana, Utah, Colorado, California, Missouri, Virginia and Washington state, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Taylor Farms Pacific Inc, based in the San Joaquin Valley town of Tracy, California, is a major producer of fresh-cut vegetables and bagged salads.

"Out of an abundance of caution," the company said it was recalling more than 154,000 lots of numerous products from various grocery store chains in 17 states, most of them in the West.

Costco said it stopped selling the chicken salad in question on Nov. 20, the same day it was notified by federal health officials that it was linked to the E. coli cases, the company said.

Costco last year was linked to a salmonella outbreak caused by chicken products it sold in at least nine states. The contaminated chicken in that case was supplied by California-based Foster Poultry Farms.

The latest E. coli outbreak comes days after health officials linked burrito chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to more than 40 cases of E. coli O26 food poisoning in six states.

Watch more coverage:

Chipotle Reopens 43 Restaurants After E. Coli Scare

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