Consumers should not eat “I.M. Healthy” brand soy nut butter products, the CDC and FDA are warning, as they may be linked to a multi-state E. coli O157 outbreak. The strain is referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was the first to alert consumers, discouraging them on March 2 from eating any soy nut butter and soy nut butter-containing products from “The SoyNut Butter Company” until further notice because of possible contamination.

The alert was prompted by a Maryland patient who consumed “I. M. Healthy” soy nut butter prior to becoming ill. At least 12 people from several states are sick in this particular outbreak.

The CDC warning followed later that same day.

Symptoms of STEC infections vary but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, often bloody, and vomiting, according to the CDC:

“Most people get better within 5–7 days, but some infections are severe or even life-threatening. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, is a potentially life-threatening complication of E. coli O157 infection. Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and HUS than others, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill.”

If you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine, you should contact your healthcare provider

STEC infections are estimated to cause 265,000 illnesses each year in the United States, with more than 3,600 hospitalizations and 30 deaths, according to the CDC.

Image: Carlos de Paz, CC BY-NC-SA

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