May 6th, 2010
09:55 PM ET

Illness fears spur romaine lettuce recall

Freshway Foods announced Thursday it is voluntarily recalling products containing romaine lettuce with a use-by date of May 12 or earlier because they may be contaminated with potentially deadly bacteria linked to an outbreak of illness.

The recalled products may be the cause of an outbreak of foodborne disease linked to E. coli 0145 in Michigan, Ohio and New York, the Food and Drug Administration said on its website.

So far, 19 confirmed cases of the illness have been reported in the three states, the FDA said. They include 12 people who have been hospitalized, three with the potentially life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.

In HUS, the body's blood-clotting mechanisms are altered, causing blocked circulation or bleeding in the brain or kidneys.

E. coli O145 can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which may be bloody. Though most healthy adults recover within a week, young children and the elderly are most at risk of developing HUS.

Blog: What you need to know about E. coli

Federal health authorities are encouraging anyone with such symptoms to contact a health care provider immediately.

The recall came a day after the New York state Public Health Laboratory in Albany reported finding E. coli O145 in an unopened bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce, the FDA said.

Ohio-based Freshway Foods said in a news release that the recalled shredded romaine lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, and some in-store salad bars and delis in: Alabama, Connecticut, the 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.

Consumers are urged not to eat "grab and go" salads sold from in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores.

Romaine lettuce and other types of lettuce and leafy greens from other producers are not affected by the recall.

"Multiple lines of evidence have implicated shredded romaine lettuce from one processing facility as a source of infections in a multi-state outbreak to which this recall may be related," the FDA said.

Preliminary results of traceback investigations indicate that the shredded romaine lettuce eaten by the people who got sick came from one processing facility, it said.

Freshway said a federal investigation of its plant in Sidney, Ohio, uncovered no contamination there.

Freshway Foods is cooperating with the investigation, the FDA said.

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soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. denice adams

    Is freshexress the same? Purchased at publix in georgia

    May 6, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AGuest9

    Yes, people SAID this was going to be an issue with what's going on in Arizona...

    May 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AGuest9

    It's disgusting that in this day and age, people STILL don't understand the need to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. ESPECIALLY those working in food services!

    May 6, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kim

    I have fresh express salad same company ? Bought in pa. Looked on pkg nothing says freshway. Got rid of it anyway.

    May 6, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Danielle

    Is the recall only for "shredded" romaine lettuce?

    May 6, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. frank042

    @ AGuest9

    You're right, but employers that hire cheap laborers don't exactly want to put the time and effort into educating them and third world habits are brought into our agriculture industry. Unfortunately, a lot of the problems with contamination also stem from agriculture workers using the fields as their bathrooms.

    May 6, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kris Wood

    ...sighh. People, learn to read the entire story before you react.

    May 7, 2010 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ash


    you have to be kidding me! "third world habits are brought into our agriculture industry." ??? the reason why E Coli strains get into unsuspecting foods like lettuce and, recently this past March, Prngles is because those same processing plants who care about nothing else than profit are also processing other commodities like corn which have in some way or another come into contact with live bacteria in cattle. The farming and agricultural industry have gone too far and the U.S. government insists on passing laws and bills that benefit big food corporations in exchange for campaign money. Really, it's not as simple as putting the blame on third-world cheap labor.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Peter Q. Wolfe

    Seriously we need to fund the FDA more than we do today and listen to the professionals more than we do. It's obvious lots of people will call them socialists or liberals trying to take away everything. The fact is that science is constantly evolving with understanding of these chemicals that cause cancers or whatever. What is the harm of being cautious anyways? For example, using your cell phone less? Won't you be happyier without being on the hook anyways?
    Secondly, I think new regulation on the accountability and transparency of FDA in terms of pharmacy, etc deals and lobbyist needs to be resolved once and for all. We have no sense of priorities in this nation at all. We look at foreign wars, low taxes, fast food and dangerous lifestyles and complacency as a norm to dictate our gluttonous and often ignorant lifestyles. Common sense dictates to me being a soon to be catholic that we must fix these things why we still have a chance to correct our current trek.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. screw

    go to love GM foods

    May 7, 2010 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. caliokey

    Its realy a combination of all of the above. Having grown upin Calif in farm country, I have witnessed livestock in close proximity to agriculture. ie.. pigs and cattle... As well as field hands relieving themselves in the field. It is also the large Agri businesses that have so much clout that they are untouchable. Monsanto, ConAgra, Etc...These guys are always cutting corners to save a buck. Not sanitizing product. Not cleaning equipment. Canning and packaging contaminated produce knowingly....

    May 7, 2010 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Albert

    Congress needs to pass laws that will insure are safety on all produce. Full traceability on all produce and OZONE washing of all produce. Ozone washing kills 99.9% of all bacteria, fungus, and all infections virus know to man. There are only a small amounts of produce company's that do this now but big retail and food-service company's are all about profit not public safety. One company called Fresh-Veg Distributing carries a product called Certified, all produce in this label is OZONE washed. Ask your produce suppliers to contact them.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. rearden215

    Big oil. Big coal. Big lettuce. The little guy is araid of everything and the first to howl when something goes wrong. But, we gotta keep 'em driving the highways, using their computers and feeding their fat, trailer park bohunkus.

    May 7, 2010 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. Disgusted

    Welcome to big corp America... corn fed cattle are the number one producers of E-coli and the big food corps couldn't care less. Look up companies like Monsanto, ConAgra and see how many of their lawyers/heads haven't moved on over the years to jobs inside the FDA ... hell even the Supreme Court (who now ruled that big corps should be able to back politicians just like a person) .. the small farmer is shackled to these companies or squeezed out all together. There is no reason E-Coli is in our food system except for greed. Isn't Capitalism wonderful!

    May 7, 2010 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. Doug

    Some cultures & countries do not have the sanitation or preventative health emphasis we do in the U.S. That is why some of my office co-workers are quite comfortable blowing their nose into the restroom sink rather than using a tissue....although they are saving a tree I suppose.

    May 7, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
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