BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The future of the Rich Products facility in Georgia appears to be in jeopardy after a widespread E. coli outbreak.
The outbreak has sickened 35 people in 19 states. E. coli was found in Rich Products "Farm Rich" frozen products in March and more than 100 tons of those items were thrown out. The plant that produced the products in Waycross, Georgia was closed and remains shuttered.
Federal food safety authorities continue to investigate the source of the bacteria, which seems to be a mystery.
Rich Products spokesman Dwight Gram said, "No traces of E. coli were ever found at our facility. We're probably never going to have 100 percent confirmation on what caused the source of contamination. We believe it was likely caused by an ingredient of some sort."
One aspect of the E. coli outbreak is not a mystery though . Nineteen-year-old Rob Ormsby of the Town of Tonawanda suffered kidney failure from E. coli poisoning, and the likely cause was tainted chicken Quesadillas.
Now three new cases of the E. coli type 121 have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control, but so far they have not been definitively linked to Rich Products. Only one other case has been definitively tied to Rich Products.
Gram says more than half of the workers at the Waycross, Georgia plant have been laid off. But the company is running tests on the production equipment, getting ready for the day when they might start food production again.
"How do we build in new manufacturing processes, and food safety processes into our current environment, so when we do start producing again, we are going to have 100 percent confidence in our ability to do it safely," Gram explained.
An attorney representing Ormsby says the teen is doing better. He is no longer on kidney dialysis, but he has been put on an expensive medication to help stabilize his still weakened condition.
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