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FDA News Release

For Immediate Release: May 6, 2010
Media Inquiries: Michael Herndon 301-796-4673, Michael.Herndon@fda.hhs.gov  
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA Supports Freshway Foods Voluntary Recall of Lettuce

Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, announced today a voluntary recall of certain romaine lettuce products because of the possible connection between the recalled romaine lettuce and an outbreak of foodborne disease. FDA supports this action by Freshway Foods. The outbreak, which is still under investigation, involves cases in Michigan, Ohio, and New York of illnesses due to infection with E. coli O145, a harmful bacteria.

On May 5, 2010, the New York state Public Health Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, in Albany reported finding E. coli O145 in an unopened bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce being recalled.

A Freshway Foods press release says the recalled shredded romaine lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, and some in-store salad bars and delis in the following areas: 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.

Symptoms of infection with harmful E. coli may range from none to mild diarrhea to severe complications. The acute symptoms include severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which may be bloody. Patients may progress to serious complications, such as kidney damage. FDA and CDC encourage anyone with the symptoms listed to contact his or her health care provider immediately.
The recalled shredded romaine lettuce has a “best if used by” date of May 12 or earlier. The Freshway Foods press release advises restaurants, distributors, and retailers to throw out or refrain from using shredded romaine lettuce from Freshway Foods with these “use by” dates. Additionally, Freshway Foods is advising consumers not to eat “grab and go” salads sold in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores.

Shredded romaine lettuce from Freshway Foods with “use by” dates after May 12 are not involved in this voluntary recall. Romaine lettuce and other types of lettuce and leafy greens from other producers are also not affected by this recall.

Multiple lines of evidence have implicated shredded romaine lettuce from one processing facility as a source of infections in a multistate outbreak to which this recall may be related.

To date, 19 confirmed cases of E. coli O145 illnesses have been reported from Michigan, Ohio, and New York. These illnesses include 12 individuals who have been hospitalized, and three with a potentially life threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a serious condition in which the body’s blood-clotting mechanisms are altered, causing blocked circulation or bleeding in the brain or kidneys.

The evidence includes preliminary results of product traceback investigations that indicate:

  • The shredded romaine lettuce consumed by ill persons in three states originated from one processing facility
  • preliminary results of a case-control study in one state that found a statistically significant association between E. coli O145 infection
  • and ingestion of lettuce from the same processing facility; and recovery of E. coli O145 from an unopened package of shredded romaine lettuce from the same processing facility that was obtained from a food service entity associated with the outbreak.

For more information on the outbreak of foodborne illness to which this recall may be related, please see http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/ . The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state public health officials in Michigan, New York, and Ohio continue to investigate that outbreak and will provide updates as more information is available.

For more information on foodborne illness: http://www.foodsafety.gov.

 

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