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. Cj

    I always use CitroBio food wash to clean any vegetables my family is going to eat. this is exactly the reason you need to be carefull and not just "trust" that the grocery store product is safe!

    May 7, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. k

    here's a thought... wash your food before you eat it. problem solved.

    May 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Art W

    Bill says (#32): "Become vegan and stop eating meat. Read or listen to "The Face On Your Plate" and you will never go back to meat or poultry."

    Right . . . because eating lettuce is so healthy for you. You picked a great article to promote your bunny rabbit life-style.

    May 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    Not washing hands, what a joke. Please watch Food, Inc. and you will stop posting such ridiculous comments.

    May 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. veronica dominguez

    When I am not sure about a product, and question the possibility of food contamination
    to humans, I check the website center for disease control and prevention;

    This speeds up the information I need, to help me make the right choice.
    Whether I want to sell or offer a product to another business?

    May 7, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |


    May 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Syphon Filter

    Unfortunately, this eventually was going to happen. I am in no way here to put fear or to create lies, or to tell a far fetched story, but the truth must be told. I know that because we work hard everyday and have no time to know the truth because we rely on the FDA and other government agencies to protect us, that until an event like this happens, we cannot believe this happened. The reason why the lettuce has an e-coli strain is because the genetically modified cows that multinational corporations create, weakens the cows immune system, thus making a bacteria in their intestines. Once the manure comes out from these modified cows, We use the manure to plant and grow vegetation, and thus the bacteria in the modified cows are now in the lettuce, and other vegetables. It really is sad that people don't know about this, but the government is behind it too because they are lobbied hard by these conglomerate companies that genetically modify all the foods. It all started when the genetic engineers wanted to see if the can make a rat bigger and fatter, so they injected the rat with Human growth hormones to assist it in making it bigger and fatter. And it did make it bigger and fatter than a mouse the same age. When the US government experimented in trying to make a pig fatter, they did the same process of modifying the genetics of the pig with human growth hormone. Well, it was sad to say that the pig was so deformed and crossed eyed and couldn't stand up with leaning on a wall or a fence. Cows, vegetation and chicken are all being modified for big profits. But it truly is wrong to genetically modify what is naturally grown through evolution. The conglomerates who are genetically modifying animals and vegetation are making big profits, but are creating sickness, death, cancer, and altering what god had created. There is now a lab in Canada that has genetically created a fatter salmon, and is working on bigger talapia for china, but the problem is that they are finding that these fish are not only bigger, but have more problems internally and they tend to escape in the ocean, which will lead to breading with the rest of the fish population in the world, and that will be really horrible. I am not against big business, but when it comes down to protecting human beings and children by exposing the conglomerates to altering animals, fish and our vegetables, then I am totally against that. Seriously, we need to bring this to our lazy representatives in Washington who are doing nothing about it. mark my words, in the next 10 years, cancer and other diseases, like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other life threatening diseases will only get worst. Buy your vegetables and fruits from your local farms. Make sure that the manure that is being used is from an organic cow that eats grass and not corn or any other modified vegetation or that the cow is being injected with antobiotics. Buy organic meats from your local farms. Buy organic fish from your local fisherman. Seriously, this is a huge problem, and unfortunately, its all about profits for the conglomerate corporations who control our foods. Best of luck to everyone and I wish you all well.

    May 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. FoodInc

    Barry, you hit the nail on the head. Watch Food Inc and you will have a better idea as to how and why our foods are being contaminated...there is a GIANT vail that needs to be peeled back.

    May 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CK

    I watched Food, Inc. just last week (rented it from our local video store). It's changed my eating habits. Stopped eating fast food – bought grass fed beef and chickens without antibotics, etc. Already lost 6 pounds. Our food shouldn't be poisioning us.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mulamootil

    It is coming from Mexico guys!

    May 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. das

    To the person who said "go (sic) to love GM foods":

    What on earth does lettuce being contaminated with E.coli bacteria have to do with GM anything?

    May 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vazquez.Carmen

    People, rather than blaming individuals, it is the corporations that hire the people who pick and pack our food who need to educate themselves and They are the ones who need to educate their workers about proper sanitation habits. Owners of farms crowing food for public consumption need to provide clean water pumps and soap for the handlers and pickers. Duh! Basic health and sanitation safety. In Mexico, people use tablets that dissolve in water to sanitize it for drinking and for wasing of food purposes. Also, in Mexico, people are used to dumping used toilet tissue into receptacles because in some parts of the country the plumbing can't handle the constant flushing, etc. When coming to the United States, they continue the practice because no one explains or posts signs informing the proper use of the bathroom. I see these toilet tissue baskets in Mexican restaurants because they think it is proper–it's what they're used to. The Sanitation Dept. personnel who come to inspect need to be aware and teach the owners proper sanitation for public eating places. Take the time, owners, to train your help.

    I, for one, wash so-called pre-washed salads, etc. before I feed my family. Common sense, folks.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brad - Ohio

    The number one most amazing thing about this board is that anyone would hope to find useful lettuce recall information amidst all the hidden political agendas. Get a life guys. . .

    May 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LCR

    Got food poisoning a few weeks ago from a chef salad. Called to tell the deli and they said it was impossible since they used "prepackaged and prewashed" lettuce. Guess it wasn't so impossible.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Louie

    My guess the problem originated at an Organic farm.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
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