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E. coli poisoning leads to Odwalla juice recall

basket November 1, 1996
Web posted at: 6:25 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey

(CNN) -- E. coli bacteria has caused an outbreak of food poisoning on the West Coast. But unlike many past cases, the bug has been traced to a fruit juice, not hamburger meat.

California-based Odwalla Inc., the maker of Odwalla fruit juices, issued a nationwide recall Wednesday of all its products containing apple juice after health officials linked it to an outbreak of E. coli bacterial poisoning.

The company, based in Half Moon Bay, California, also is recalling its carrot and vegetable juices as a precaution.


Health officials in Washington state linked 10 of 13 cases of E. coli infection to Odwalla fruit juices. In Colorado, officials said at least four cases of E. coli poisoning was most likely associated with Odwalla juices.

Greg Steltenpohl of Odwalla said the company was issuing its recall because its primary concern is for the "safety and health" of its customers. (17 sec./184K AIFF or WAV sound)icon

Thirteen types of juice were being pulled from the shelves of stores in seven Western states and Canada. While they all contain some form of apple juice, some, like Blackberry Fruitshake," do not have "apple" in their names.

The other potentially tainted Odwalla flavors are: Mango Tango, Super Protein, Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Raspberry Smoothie, C-Monster, Mo'Beta, Femme Vitale, Strawberry C- Monster, Superfood, Serious Ginseng and Deep in Peach.

Odwalla sells 12 other products, from strawberry lemonade to a vegetable cocktail, that do not contain apple juice and are not affected by the recall. People who have bought Odwalla products containing apple juice should "discard" them, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler said.(10 sec./105K AIFF or WAV sound)icon

Most of the poisoning victims have been children. Two remained hospitalized; the other victims were not seriously ill. Symptoms include diarrhea and cramping.


Health officials used dietary histories taken from the victims and genetic "fingerprinting" of the bacteria to trace the outbreak to a batch of unpasteurized apple juice that Odwalla uses as an ingredient in many of its mixed-fruit beverages.

No one is sure how the apples became contaminated, but medical experts said the strain of E. coli typically lives in the intestines of cows.

Don Schlimme with the University of Maryland suggested the apples could have become contaminated through feces from cows grazing near an apple orchard. (10 sec./103K AIFF or WAV sound)icon

Pasteurization, which involves heat treatment, would have killed the bacteria in the Odwalla products. Health officials said when people drink nonpasteurized juice, they run the risk of becoming sick. They suggest boiling juice first.

But authorities also said most juices sold in stores are safe.


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