At least 24 people are sick in 18 states after an E. coli outbreak that officials are linking to frozen chicken quesadillas and other mini meals recalled by New York-based Rich Products this week. According to a USA Today news report, the firm has recalled 196,222 pounds of the quesadillas, mini meals and snack items for possible bacterial contamination.

The outbreak of E. coli 0121 was first detected by health officials last week. Officials then examined samples of these products, which tested positive for the strain of E. coli. Eight of the food poisoning victims said they ate products made by Rich Foods. The company posted notice of the food recall on its website and advised consumers to cook the food thoroughly according to the instructions on the package.

Several Meals and Snacks Recalled

The recalled products include Farm Rich mini pizza slices, quesadillas with cheese and chicken and Farm Rich Philly cheese steaks. Other snack foods such as Farm Rich mozzarella bites may also be contaminated. All the foods involved in this recall were manufactured between Nov. 12 and Nov. 19. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is concerned that some consumers could still have these products in their freezers.

E. Coli Symptoms and Complications

The E. coli strain that is involved in this particular outbreak has become rarer, scientists say. Such infections can result in severe symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, dehydration and abdominal cramping for three or four days. Although most people tend to recover, some may develop a type of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue, bleeding from nose and mouth and swelling.

Compensation for Victims

Anyone who has been sickened by contaminated food would be well advised to isolate and preserve the food that made them ill so it can be tested in the lab for pathogens. Victims should also get immediate medical attention and diagnostic testing and report their illness to the local healthcare agency. Food poisoning victims can file a personal injury claim against the negligent food producer for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, cost of hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide victims and their families with more information about pursuing their legal rights.