Friday, April 19, 2024

Cambridge students and shoppers had access to food that has been recalled for E.coli risks.

A soy nut butter product recalled nationwide because it was associated with E.coli infections that can cause serious illness was used in one Cambridge public school and carried in Whole Foods stores and the Harvest Food Cooperative in Cambridge.

No illnesses associated with I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter or Granola have been reported in Massachusetts, but it can take two to three weeks after a person becomes sick for the illness to be reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter was recalled starting March 3 after a dozen people in five states, most of them children, were infected with a potentially virulent strain of E.coli and investigators concluded the product was the likely source. The original recall was for products with two specific sell-by dates, but the recall was expanded March 7 to all I.M. Healthy SoyNut butter products. At that point, 16 people from nine states had become ill. Fourteen were under 18; eight have been hospitalized. The recall also covered I.M. Healthy Granola.

On March 10, Dixie Diners’ Club Carb Not Beanit Butter was added to the recall. Soy nut butter is an alternative to peanut butter for children and adults who are allergic to peanuts.

I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter was used in Fletcher Maynard Academy for several weeks, according to an announcement posted March 10 on the Cambridge Public Schools website. The announcement said parents and guardians of children had been notified and the product was “immediately removed from service.”

The announcement posted links to information about E.coli infections on the websites of the state Department of Public Health and CDC. People infected with the bacteria usually get sick two to eight days after exposure. Typical symptoms are severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. Most recover with no complications, but a small number suffer serious kidney and blood-clotting problems.

Health officials advised consumers to return or throw out unused or partly used product, even if they had eaten it without getting sick.

Off the shelves

Whole Foods Market posted a statement about the recall on its website, but it referred to the initial announcement with two specific sell-by dates. The soy nut butter had been removed from the shelf at the River Street store, though, and a manager said all products were gone regardless of sell-by dates.

At the Harvest Cooperative in Central Square, jars of the recalled soy nut butter were still for sale and the manager said the store had not known that the recall was expanded to cover all sell-by dates. He said the products would be removed.

I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter and Granola, made by The SoyNut Butter Co. of Glenview, Ill., are also sold online. Last week, more than a week after the initial recall,  the products were still being sold on Amazon, but they were gone Monday. The main vendor selling on Amazon, Lucky Vitamin, was still offering I.M.Healthy SoyNut Butter online Monday, though.

An online search found one company, Groceries USA, offering I.M.Healthy SoyNut Butter for sale abroad last week. A man who answered the phone, who declined to give his name, said he wasn’t authorized to comment but forwarded questions about export of the product to “upper management.” There has been no response.