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More Lettuce Recalled for E. coli

On May 6, Freshway Foods voluntarily recalled all of its products containing romaine lettuce with a use by date of May 12 or earlier due to potential E. coli O145 contamination. As of May 10, the E. coli O145 outbreak had spread to 23 states and hospitalized 12 people, including three who were treated for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).

One day later, on May 7, a California company recalled about 1,000 cartons of produce because of potential E. coli O145 contamination. The cartons went to two customers who then processed the lettuce before sending it on to food-service establishments. The total amount of recalled romaine that could have been already consumed or sold to restaurants and others in food service has been estimated at about 23,000 pounds.

In the wake of the Freshway Foods E. coli O145 outbreak in romaine lettuce, some affected states began widespread testing of romaine samples. A laboratory in Ohio found another strain of E. coli which led to a very private recall on Friday by Andrew Smith Co., The Packer reported yesterday.

However, a spokeswoman for Andrew Smith Co. in Spreckels, Calif., said none of the lettuce was sold in grocery stores and that only two food processors bought the cartons. Although Freshway Foods is a customer of Andrew Smith, health officials determined that the two E. coli O145 recalls are unrelated.

“It was a precautionary measure,” said Spokeswoman Amy Philpott about the recall.

Andrew Smith Co. decided to recall the entire lot of romaine, which was sourced from Yuma, Arizona, Philpott said, even though no tests at the Yuma ranch or tests carried out by Andrew Smith Co. showed any indications of further bacterial contamination.

Ohio Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Kaleigh Frazier said tests at the Ohio lab showed that the E. coli was not the specific type of O145 implicated in the outbreak which has been traced to a still unnamed farm in Yuma. The positive test was performed on an unopened bag of Freshway Foods romaine shredded lettuce with a sell-by date of May 10, she said.

The Ohio Department of Health is sending the samples to federal officials for further testing.

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