Earlier today I wrote in this post about George Packing Co.’s refusal to name its suppliers because of an alleged lack of conclusive evidence that hazelnuts were the source of the multi-state E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.  Just a few hours ago, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that they had found the conclusive evidence that George Packing was looking for.

MDA laboratory testing has confirmed E. coli O157:H7 contamination of in-shell hazelnuts (also known as filberts) collected from the home of an ill Minnesotan. The contaminated hazelnuts are part of a multi-state recall announced last Friday, March 4, by DeFranco and Sons, a California-based nut and produce distributor.

MDH confirmed that the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria found on the hazelnuts by MDA’s lab matches the DNA fingerprint of the bacteria that sickened three people in Minnesota, three in Wisconsin, and one in Michigan. Based on purchase information associated with the positive hazelnut sample, MDA traced this product to a December 9, 2010, shipment from DeFranco and Sons.

DeFranco and Sons has recalled all hazelnut and mixed nut products it distributed from November 2, 2010, to December 22, 2010. Recalled product was shipped to stores in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. MDH and MDA issued a joint news release on March 4 detailing the recall and providing a list of stores that sold the recalled hazelnuts, either alone or as part of a mixed nut product. The news release and store list is available online at www.mda.state.mn.us/food/safety/recalls.aspx. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also published a list of recalled products online at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm245795.htm.

People with recalled hazelnuts still in their possession should discard them or return them to the store from which they were purchased.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 illness typically include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but little or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after eating contaminated food. Most people recover in five to 10 days. However, E. coli O157:H7 infections sometimes lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), characterized by kidney failure. Those who develop such symptoms after consuming this product should contact their health care provider immediately.