E. coli-contaminated romaine lettuce recalled

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An E. coli outbreak has sickened at least 19 people in Michigan, Ohio and New York, resulting in 12 hospitalizations and three cases involving potentially life-threatening complications. The outbreak may be connected to contaminated romaine lettuce products sold to wholesalers and food-service outlets, and for use in in-store salad bars and delis in 23 states east of the Mississippi River.

Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, which sold the lettuce products under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands, is voluntarily recalling the shredded romaine lettuces — all products with a “use by” date of May 12 or earlier.

The recall comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified Freshway Foods on May 5 that a New York State public health lab in Albany found E. coli in an unopened bag of the company’s lettuce. “Multiple lines of evidence have implicated shredded romaine lettuce from one processing facility as a source of infections,” the FDA reports. According to the AP, the FDA is focusing its investigation on lettuce grown in Arizona as a possible source for the outbreak.

The Freshway Foods press release advises restaurants, distributors and retailers in affected states to throw out or refrain from using shredded romaine lettuce with the May 12 use by date. The company also advises consumers not to eat “grab and go” salads sold in in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh stores in those states. However, bulk, prepackaged romaine or bagged salad mixes containing romaine that were purchased in supermarkets are not included in the recall; Freshway Foods does not produce these products.

Consumers may call Freshway Foods’ information desk at 888-361-7106 (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday) with questions, or visit the company’s website, where the company has a list of the recalled products.

For more information on E. coli infection and symptoms, consumers can log onto foodsaftey.gov. For information about this and past E. coli outbreaks, consumers can see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website cdc.gov/ecoli.

The states affected in the current recall are Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.