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California company recalls salads, wraps on E. coli fear

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California company is recalling more than 180,000 pounds of prepackaged salads and sandwich wraps containing chicken and ham following an outbreak of E. coli-related illnesses in three states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The recall was initiated after the Food and Drug Administration last week found a cluster of E. coli-related illnesses in California in which patients had reported eating the ready-to-eat salads with grilled chicken, the Agriculture Department said.

Since then, 26 patients have been identified in California, Arizona and Washington state.

The USDA said the salads and wraps were produced between September 23 and November 6 by Glass Onion Catering of Richmond, California, and intended for sale in eight Western states. Some of the food was packaged under the name Atherstone Fine Foods.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the FDA were investigating the source of the E. coli contamination, which the USDA said was uncommon in poultry products. Consumers were told to destroy any product they had on hand.

"Atherstone Foods is working closely with (FSIS)to determine the root cause of the possible contaminated product," Glass Onion's owner, Tom Atherstone, said.

"At this time, the investigation is in process. We are also working with our customers to retrieve any and all possibly contaminated product," he said.

The bacterium blamed for the illnesses, E. coli O157:H7, can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure.

The USDA advised people who experience these symptoms to seek emergency medical care immediately.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Leslie Adler and Jan Paschal)

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