1996 Odwalla E. coli outbreak

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1996 Odwalla E. coli Outbreak‏‎

The 1996 Odwalla E. coli outbreak‏‎ was a significant event in the history of food safety in the United States. It involved the contamination of Odwalla apple juice with the E. coli O157:H7 bacterium, leading to the death of a child and the sickening of at least 66 people.

Background[edit | edit source]

Odwalla is a food product company that was founded in 1980 in Santa Cruz, California. The company is known for its line of juices and smoothies. In 1996, Odwalla was using fresh, unpasteurized apple juice as a base for many of its products.

Outbreak[edit | edit source]

In October 1996, health officials in the state of Washington detected a sudden increase in the number of cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and E. coli O157:H7 infections. Many of the affected individuals reported having consumed Odwalla apple juice or Odwalla products containing apple juice in the days before becoming ill.

Investigation and Response[edit | edit source]

The CDC and the FDA were notified and an investigation was launched. The source of the outbreak was traced back to Odwalla's production facility in Dinuba, California. It was determined that the E. coli had originated from tainted apple juice.

Odwalla immediately recalled all of its apple juice products and later introduced flash pasteurization to kill bacteria in its juices. The company also established a new system for washing and culling fruit, and created a new position, Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The outbreak had a significant impact on Odwalla's reputation and finances. The company pleaded guilty to charges of distributing adulterated food products and was fined $1.5 million by the FDA. In addition, Odwalla settled more than a dozen lawsuits from individuals affected by the outbreak.

The 1996 Odwalla E. coli outbreak‏‎ is often cited as a case study in the importance of food safety measures and the potential consequences of their neglect.

See also[edit | edit source]

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD