WARREN COUNTY, N.J. A Panera Bread in New Jersey is being investigated as a possible source of E. coli exposure in the state, according to media reports.
Health officials have confirmed to NJ.com that they are investigating a Panera Bread in Phillipsburg, N.J.,in Warren Countyrelated to E. coli exposure, according to the story.
“The Warren County Health Department and state Health Department are investigating a cluster of E. coli cases” potentially from “local Panera Breads,” Sarah Perramant, public health epidemiologist in Warren County, said.
On Thursday, six E. coli cases in at least four counties were being investigated.
According to the N.J.com report, Perramant said the Phillipsburg-based Panera Bread was the one primarily being investigated. She did, however, emphasize that health officials had “not concretely determined Panera as the source, adding that the matter remains under investigation.”
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The New Jersey Department of Health is investigating a half-dozen E. coli cases in at least four central New Jersey counties, said Donna Leusner, a department spokeswoman.
On Thursday, health officials said the six E. coli cases which occurred in Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Warren counties may be linked to a restaurant chain in the state, but that it hadn’t been determined yet.
“It is very early in the investigation,” Leusner said. “This is a preliminary investigation of a half-dozen cases in the four counties. Two of the six were from Somerset County with the other four from the other Central Jersey counties.”
The state Health department was in the process of gathering the food history of those who are sick. The department will submit its findings to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
Leusner said thatas part of the state’s investigation, the department traces the food product backand conducts laboratorytesting. The department also interviews those who fell ill and contacts any involved restaurants.
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“We are working with the FDA and the CDC,” she said. “The state lab is conducting tests to see if the strain of E. Coli bacteria (there are many) match. The CDC will then conduct confirmatory tests.As more information becomes available, we will provide that to the public.”
The department is investigating to try to determine whether there is a common food source that made people sick.
“Were working with the FDA district office in New Jerseyand our own investigators to trace back sources of food the individuals may have eaten as well as vouchers of food deliveries made to any of the restaurants that may be part of the investigation,” Leusner said.
Symptoms of E. coli, also known as Escherichia coli, include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people with an infection start to feel sick three to four days after consuming a product with the bacteria.
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