Feds shut down northern Kentucky factory linked to nationwide E. coli outbreak

Published: Apr. 4, 2017 at 8:34 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2017 at 4:39 PM EDT
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ERLANGER, KY (FOX19) - A peanut butter substitute manufactured in northern Kentucky is believed to be the source of a national E. coli outbreak, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

12 people from five states have been infected, including many children, after consuming SoyNut Butter products possibly manufactured at Erlanger's Dixie Dew Products, Inc., the FDA reports.

The mother of a young girl from Florida said that her daughter's recovery started with 30 days in the intensive care unit.

"She was in kidney failure and had to be put on 24-hour continuous dialysis for two weeks. It got into her brain, and she was in a coma for six days after that," Tracy O'Neal said.

Dixie Dew manufactures I.M Healthy brand peanut butter substitutes and granola bars.

Federal agents found unsanitary conditions during several visits to the Jamike Avenue plant in March, according to the FDA.

According to the report, inspectors observed a walk-in cooler with mold growing on the surface of some products. The cooler also contained  "rodent defiled marking that penetrated the box and product."

Investigators reported SoyNut Butter processing equipment had not been disassembled for cleaning and sanitizing since 2015.

The report also claims an employee was observed not using soap or hot water while washing his hands after he had touched the floor. He then continued handling packaged food ingredients and products.

When O'Neal and her family learned about an FDA report that shows the results of inspections that took place at the facility in March, she said they were appalled.

"Disgusted us really," she said. "My daughter was just completely shocked, grossed out."

"The pain and suffering and horror of going through that, having your 2-year-old, your 4-year-old in in the ICU for weeks, a month, is any parent's worst nightmare," William Marler, a Seattle attorney who is representing some of the families, said. "They need to be responsible for what happened."

Another attorney out of Texas who is representing several families affected by the outbreak said that he believes the outbreak could continue to grow as more people discover they are infected.

FOX19 NOW did reach out to Dixie Dew Products for comment, but has not heard back.

The following products have been recalled in connection with the outbreak:

  • Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter (only available online and through mail order)
  • All flavors and sizes of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butters
  • All flavors and sizes of I.M. Healthy Granola
  • Pro Sports Club 20/20 Life Styles Yogurt Peanut Crunch Bars

Symptoms of E. coli infection include fever, abdominal pain, feeling tired, decreased frequency in urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor, according to the FDA.  Most people recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.

Although the suspension of registration applies to the entire facility, FDA does not currently have evidence to indicate that any other products manufactured in the facility are contaminated or otherwise impacted and subject to recall.

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