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Freshway Foods Recalls Romaine Lettuce Salad

The Food and Drug Administration said on May 6 that it supports a voluntary recall by Freshway Foods  of Sidney, Ohio for certain lettuce products because the products have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli poisoning.

E. coli O145 was detected in an upopened bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce being recalled on May 5 by the New York state Public Health Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, in Albany.

Nineteen cases of E coli poisoning with 12 cases of hospitalizations and three potentially life threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome have been reported in Michigan, Ohio, and New York, the FDA said. 

Pathogenic E coli bacteria can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In serious cases, the illness can lead to kidney damage.

The recalled shredded romaine lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service establishments, and some in-store salad bars and delis in 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.

"The recalled shredded romaine lettuce has a "best if used by" date of May 12 or earlier," the FDA states on its web site.  But products with "use by" dates after May12 are not subject to the recall. Not affected by the recall are also romaine lettuce and other types of lettuce and leafy greens from other producers.

The Freshway Foods advises in a press release that food service establishments, distributors, and retailers should not use or sell the recalled products and consumers should not eat "grab and go" salads sold in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores.

Some E coli strains may produce heat-stable toxin, meaning even if bacteria get killed, their toxins can still cause problems. On the other hand, not all E coli strains are pathogenic.  The one implicated often in outbreaks is E coli 0157:H7.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that those who experience the symptoms of E coli poisoning should seek medical attention immediately.

Jimmy Downs