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. bookldy209

    If space allows, put in your own garden this summer. Nothing better or fresher and with real taste, not the early harvested Big Corp stuff that "ripens" in a truck on its way to you. Or purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers' markets. This bagged lettuce issue resurfaces every couple of years. At the very least, don't buy anything prepackaged and spend time washing and cutting yourself. Anything that can stay "fresh" in a plastic bag should be suspect to begin with. Also agree with comments previously made – all through the Central Valley of CA you can see large dairy feedlots that back up to irrigation canals. And those irrigation canals are what's used to provide water to food growers by periodically opening the canal gates and flooding the fields. It's not just the sometimes unsanitary habits of field workers; it's also what the "Food, Inc." model has created.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Greg

    My guess it wasn't a "single" employee, to much contamination. Maybe the water supply used to wash it. Ecoli (sewer) is happening more than ever.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stush

    I can't believe people think this is coming from workers not washing their hands. Crops get contaminated with e coli when infiltrated by animals. Lettuce in particular is prone to this.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. floydrturboamerican

    NEWSFLASH–hispanic workers crap on the lettuce in the field
    date. oh 1800-s to present

    May 7, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mack

    Suggest you all save to your favorites USDA websit:
    check out

    May 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. josie526

    Poop, poop, and more poop ....... hmmmmm! Get used to it; we live on a "poop-Infested" planet. Greed at the source, as always.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dale Harris

    It is sad, but the good old USA has become a third world country. Anything goes.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Christine

    Watch the movie "Food Inc." and you will learn how our produce gets comtaminated. You learn a whole lot more too.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Abigail

    I don't think they have nearly enough states listed here. My aunt who lives in Virginia ate a premade salad over 2 weeks ago and is still int the hospital. 3 days ago she had her firs soft food but she is (how to put this delicately) is still not digesting well.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Richard

    Fresh Express and Fresh Way Foods are two different companies. The products being recalled have nothing to do with Fresh Express. The article that CNN did does not have that much information. Here is a link to all the items being recalled. I hope this helps some of you that have concerns about the recall.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Matt

    Fresh Express is a different compay then Freshway Foods.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. saladeater

    I hardly buy the bagged salad mixes anymore. It seems they are the ones with the problem. I think I got sick off some earlier this year. It was supposed to be organic a tripled washed.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe

    Is this lettuce from MEXICO ????

    May 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Doug

    Wah wah waaaaah. What a bunch of crybabies. Great, lets make more laws since we all need government to take care of us. I'll take my chances with E Coli any day over making more unnecessary laws to be managed and enforced by incompetent and corrupt people. Why don't we all do what humans have done for millenia. Take care of ourselves, make our own decsions and live with the consequences (if you don't like big corporate lettuce, which I don't, eat something else or find another source for lettuce you trust for chrissakes), and quit waiting on the rest of humanity to tell us who to be and how to live. Idiots.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim

    Hmmmmm, Upset Hispanic lettuce pickers pooping on my salad!!!!

    May 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
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