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Freshway initiates voluntary recall after E. coli outbreak points to Romaine lettuce

by | May 06, 2010
Freshway Foods in Sidney, OH, announced a voluntary recall May 6 of certain Romaine lettuce products because of the possible connection between the recalled Romaine lettuce and an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 19 people in three states.

A bag of Freshway Foods shredded Romaine lettuce was found to be contaminated with E. coli 0145 bacteria May 5 by the New York state Public Health Laboratory in Albany after local authorities had been investigating a suspected foodborne illness outbreak that has sickened 19 people in 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.

The Food & Drug Administration is focusing its investigation on lettuce grown in Arizona as a possible source for the outbreak, the Associated Press reported May 7.

A May 6 press release issued by Freshway, said that the recalled shredded Romaine lettuce was sold to wholesalers, foodservice 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.

In a May 6 statement, Freshway said that it was alerted by the FDA May 5 of a positive test in New York that day and that an investigation by FDA of its facility in Sidney had not uncovered any contamination at the plant.

The recalled lettuce, which was sold under the "Freshway" and “Imperial Sysco” brands, has a "best if used by" date of May 12 or earlier. The recall also affects grab-and-go salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores.