In June 2022, Built Brands, LLC of American Fork, Utah voluntarily recalled 4,196 individual bars of its “Banana Cream Pie Puffs” protein bars because of the potential pathogenic E.coli contamination.

The recalled products were distributed nationwide to 1,049 potential customers through mail orders that would have been received by customers after June 6, 2022. The protein bars came in 40-gram packages marked with lot # D22151011 on the outside of the wrapper.

The third-party laboratory who found the bacteria through testing at Built Brands’ request has not yet determined the source of the E.coli strain in the protein bars.

In the recall notice published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), customers who received the protein bars were told to not eat the product.

What is E.Coli?

Escherichia coli (commonly known as E.coli) is a bacteria found in the intestines of people and animals. There are many strains of the bacteria, and most of the strains are harmless. However, there are some strains of E.coli that can make you sick and cause serious complications.

E.coli infection symptoms vary for each person, but the symptoms usually develop within a few days of exposure to the bacteria.

Mild E.coli infection symptoms include:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Severe symptoms include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Decreased urination
  • Pale skin
  • Bruising
  • Dehydration

Some people may develop serious complications due to an E.coli infection. These severe complications include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Abdominal and pelvic infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Bacteremia
  • Meningitis
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)

Approximately 5-10% of individuals who are diagnosed with an E.coli infection develop the potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS occurs when the bacteria in the intestines cause diarrhea, but the infection also travels into the bloodstream, destroys red blood cells, and can damage the kidneys.

Most people who develop HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. HUS can develop at any age, but it’s most common in children younger than 5 years old due to their immature immune systems, older adults because of their deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems. The condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems including hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

Symptoms of HUS include:

  • Diarrhea or bloody stool
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling very tired
  • Decreased frequency of urination
  • Small unexplained bruises or bleeding
  • Pallor
  • Fast heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure

Who is at the Highest Risk for an E.Coli Infection?

Unfortunately, anyone can develop an e.coli infection. However, there are certain people who are at a higher risk of infection. For instance, older adults, younger children, individuals with reduced amounts of stomach acid, and individuals with weakened immune systems such as those undergoing cancer or HIV/AIDS treatments are at a higher risk.

How Can I Get an E.Coli Infection?

Most e.coli infections occur due to eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Undercooked meat is commonly known for transmitting e.coli to humans because the bacteria may be living in the animal’s intestines when it’s slaughtered and, if it is not cooked properly, the bacteria could be transferred to the person eating the meat. Unpasteurized milk is also a common cause of e.coli infections because the bacteria may live on the cow’s udder or on the milking equipment. The pasteurization process removes the bacteria; however, if the milk is unpasteurized there is a risk the bacteria may be transferred to the consumer. The bacteria can also be present in contaminated soil, untreated water, or unwashed food and vegetables. The bacteria can contaminate fresh produce due to runoff from cattle farms contaminating fields where fresh produce is grown. Water is often contaminated because animal and human stool that contains the discharged e.coli bacteria from the intestines may pollute the ground and surface water that is used to irrigate crops.

The bacteria can also be transmitted if food was handled improperly which can cause contamination. This can occur during food processing due to insufficient procedures to limit food’s exposure to dangerous bacteria.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help

If you or a loved one developed an e.coli infection after consuming a contaminated protein bar, contact the Minnesota Food Safety Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw today. Our team has provided clients with the Gold standard of advocacy for more than 35 years. Contact us today and learn about how we can help you!