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Latest Fresh Express Recall a Lot Like One in May

The latest recall of selected romaine lettuce by Fresh Express is almost an exact duplicate of a recall the company went through in May.

There is one major exception, however.  May’s recall of Fresh Express Romaine-based ready to eat salads occurred because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had found Salmonella contamination.  This second recall concerns possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

romaine-salad-featured.jpgOther than that, most of the details are remarkably similar.  

Both the May and July recalls are for Romaine-based products with an “S” in their product codes and both recalls came just a few days after the “use by” dates had passed.

So as in May, most of the potentially contaminated product is probably not going to be found in grocery store coolers but in the home crisper drawers of consumers who already bought the product.

No illnesses were associated with the May recall, and so far, none are known to be linked to the July recall.

The footprints for the two recalls are also remarkably similar.  Twenty states and most of Canada are involved.  Canada was first by a few hours with details on the July 14 recall of the selected romaine lettuce products.

The affected romaine products have “use-by” dates of July 9-12 and have an “S” in the product code.

This time FDA found E. coli O157:H7 in a random test of a package of Hearts of Romaine.

The latest recalled salad products were distributed in Arizona, Arkansas, California Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, and Nevada.

The list of states for the May recall also included Alaska.

Fresh Express is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International.

Anyone with questions can contact the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center at 800-242-5472.

Fresh Express List of Recalled Products for the United States

Fresh Express List of Recalled Products for Canada

© Food Safety News
  • hhamil

    Once again, we have a recall as a result of a “random test” by the FDA of a food produced under the food safety plan by a company with a reputation for implementing strategies that are considered on the cutting edge of improving food safety.
    Just as occurred in the previous recall, Food Safety News has the opportunity to report the answers to several questions which have clear implications for the current food safety legislation, including the following:
    1) Did the Fresh Express food safety plan under which this recalled food was produced include ALL of the components mandated in the S 510 and/or HR 2749?
    2) Was the recalled food subject to a testing protocol like supporters of S 510/HR 2749 advocate?
    3) Were there components of the food safety plan under which the recalled food produced in addition to those required by S 510 and/or HR 2749? If so, what were they?
    If the answers to all of the questions are “yes,” as I would bet they are, then come the bigger questions including:
    1) What evidence is there that the Fresh Express food safety plan made a material difference? And, if it did, how much of a difference?
    2) As Fresh Express’ food safety plan didn’t succeed in this case where it had the full support of management in company that has a reputation for excellent performance and is operated under near ideal circumstances, why should we believe that the imposition of the less rigorous requirements of S 510 will effectively control the food safety risk in salad greens?
    3) What impact did co-mingling of multiple harvests have on the spread of the pathogen?
    4) What impact did co-mingling of multiple harvests have on the size of the recall?
    5) How many people will actually become ill as a result of this contamination? And how severe will the illnesses turn out to be?
    6) How big would a processor need to reasonably amortize the cost of the food safety plan that failed to catch the recalled food?
    It is clear to me that the real world is demonstrating via recalls/outbreaks that S 510/HR 2749 will NOT fulfill the inflated claims made by its supporters while it all but eliminates small competitors.
    Are Food Safety News and its publisher, Bill Marler; the Make Our Food Safe coalition and our Senators willing to see the “handwriting on the wall” coming from these repeated outbreaks/recalls in the industrial food system?

  • Harry Hamil

    Once again, we have a recall as a result of a “random test” by the FDA of a food produced under the food safety plan by a company with a reputation for implementing strategies that are considered on the cutting edge of improving food safety.
    Just as occurred in the previous recall, Food Safety News has the opportunity to report the answers to several questions which have clear implications for the current food safety legislation, including the following:
    1) Did the Fresh Express food safety plan under which this recalled food was produced include ALL of the components mandated in the S 510 and/or HR 2749?
    2) Was the recalled food subject to a testing protocol like supporters of S 510/HR 2749 advocate?
    3) Were there components of the food safety plan under which the recalled food produced in addition to those required by S 510 and/or HR 2749? If so, what were they?
    If the answers to all of the questions are “yes,” as I would bet they are, then come the bigger questions including:
    1) What evidence is there that the Fresh Express food safety plan made a material difference? And, if it did, how much of a difference?
    2) As Fresh Express’ food safety plan didn’t succeed in this case where it had the full support of management in company that has a reputation for excellent performance and is operated under near ideal circumstances, why should we believe that the imposition of the less rigorous requirements of S 510 will effectively control the food safety risk in salad greens?
    3) What impact did co-mingling of multiple harvests have on the spread of the pathogen?
    4) What impact did co-mingling of multiple harvests have on the size of the recall?
    5) How many people will actually become ill as a result of this contamination? And how severe will the illnesses turn out to be?
    6) How big would a processor need to reasonably amortize the cost of the food safety plan that failed to catch the recalled food?
    It is clear to me that the real world is demonstrating via recalls/outbreaks that S 510/HR 2749 will NOT fulfill the inflated claims made by its supporters while it all but eliminates small competitors.
    Are Food Safety News and its publisher, Bill Marler; the Make Our Food Safe coalition and our Senators willing to see the “handwriting on the wall” coming from these repeated outbreaks/recalls in the industrial food system?

  • Doc Mudd

    According to Harry Hamil: “If the answers to all of the questions are “yes,” as I would bet they are,…”
    Instant replay: “…as I would bet they are,…”
    One more time, for comprehension and clarity: “as I would bet…”
    Well, Harry, your “bet” means absolutely nothing to those of us with families we care about. Your elitist bias and your casual “bet” are a gamble ordinary food consumers and their families simply cannot risk. There’s no percentage in it for us.
    Your frantic effort to maximize your tres chic profits at our expense is all too transparent. Save your desperate “bets”, Harry, and your silly naive bias for the gullible minority of trendy grocery shoppers you aspire to fool; those who can afford your over-priced gourmet gimcracks. Conserve your energy and pander directly to your affluent little niche market. Spare us common folk your callous ‘let them eat cake’ arrogance.
    Pass S.510 into law in the interest of public safety. Bring food producers of all sorts (including noisy charaltans) into compliance for the benefit of all ordinary Americans who eat food. No food producer, however self-absorbed and egotistical, should be exempt from complying with sensible food safety guidelines.

  • hhamil

    Once again, the person (or entity) hiding behind the screen name “Doc Mudd” demonstrates his/her/their unwillingness to have a civil discussion of the issues that are being raised by those of who actually farm, pack, process, distribute and retail food.
    S 510/HR 2749 will require expensive, formal food safety plans for EVERY packer, processor and storage facility (that’s how almost all distributors are included). These new food safety plans will be a knock-off of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans already used by almost every major food manufacturer. HACCP was developed for large industrial settings and works exceedingly effectively in them but HACCP doesn’t work with fresh food. At Pillsbury, and later with Cargill, Dr. William F. Sperber was one of the chief architects of HACCP. In December 2002, he delivers 2 papers are the 5th International Food Safety and HACCP Symposium entitled “HACCP & transparency” (http://smas.chemeng.ntua.gr/miram/files/publ_196_10_2_2005.pdf) and “HACCP does not work from Farm to Table” (http://www.net-lanna.info/food/Articles/11014080.pdf). In the papers, Dr. Sperber clearly shows that most legislated HACCP plans are not, in fact, HACCP plans and don’t work from farm to table as has been recommended by the Make Our Food Safe coalition and the “Doc Mudds” of the world. Worst of all, these legislative mandates get in the way of evolving academic and food industry efforts to improve food safety. Why? Because the facility must first comply with the regulatory requirements–no matter how foolish–thus siphoning way expertise, time and money.
    In addition, S 510/HR 2749 will require ALL farms that sell primarily wholesale (i.e., 99+% of those working full-time farming) comply with new FDA rules on how to grow their crops. Thus, those growers trying to get started will have to jump through additional expensive hoops.
    Now consider that for a moment. For the first time in history, we have young people voluntarily leaving cities to become farmers. They already have the huge hurdle of not having land and the “Doc Mudds” of this world want to give them another expensive hurdle to cross–mandatory growing practices and food safety plan requirements that, by their very nature, come only in an industrial size. BTW, who at the FDA has the expertise to tell farmers how to farm? Plus, don’t forget, the average age of farmers in this country is 56+ years old; so we desperately need young people to become farmers.
    Who will ultimately pay the cost of these new, unvalidated requirements? The public.
    Will this drive up the cost of food? Yes!
    Will there be any material food improvement in food safety? No, because the vast majority of food safety problems aren’t even addressed by S 510/HR 2749.
    For anyone wanting the genuine facts about S 510 rather than the blather of the “Doc Mudds” of this world, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com or call me at 828/664-0060, 10 AM – 6 PM, Eastern Time, Monday – Saturday.

  • Harry Hamil

    Once again, the person (or entity) hiding behind the screen name “Doc Mudd” demonstrates his/her/their unwillingness to have a civil discussion of the issues that are being raised by those of who actually farm, pack, process, distribute and retail food.
    S 510/HR 2749 will require expensive, formal food safety plans for EVERY packer, processor and storage facility (that’s how almost all distributors are included). These new food safety plans will be a knock-off of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans already used by almost every major food manufacturer. HACCP was developed for large industrial settings and works exceedingly effectively in them but HACCP doesn’t work with fresh food. At Pillsbury, and later with Cargill, Dr. William F. Sperber was one of the chief architects of HACCP. In December 2002, he delivers 2 papers are the 5th International Food Safety and HACCP Symposium entitled “HACCP & transparency” (http://smas.chemeng.ntua.gr/miram/files/publ_196_10_2_2005.pdf) and “HACCP does not work from Farm to Table” (http://www.net-lanna.info/food/Articles/11014080.pdf). In the papers, Dr. Sperber clearly shows that most legislated HACCP plans are not, in fact, HACCP plans and don’t work from farm to table as has been recommended by the Make Our Food Safe coalition and the “Doc Mudds” of the world. Worst of all, these legislative mandates get in the way of evolving academic and food industry efforts to improve food safety. Why? Because the facility must first comply with the regulatory requirements–no matter how foolish–thus siphoning way expertise, time and money.
    In addition, S 510/HR 2749 will require ALL farms that sell primarily wholesale (i.e., 99+% of those working full-time farming) comply with new FDA rules on how to grow their crops. Thus, those growers trying to get started will have to jump through additional expensive hoops.
    Now consider that for a moment. For the first time in history, we have young people voluntarily leaving cities to become farmers. They already have the huge hurdle of not having land and the “Doc Mudds” of this world want to give them another expensive hurdle to cross–mandatory growing practices and food safety plan requirements that, by their very nature, come only in an industrial size. BTW, who at the FDA has the expertise to tell farmers how to farm? Plus, don’t forget, the average age of farmers in this country is 56+ years old; so we desperately need young people to become farmers.
    Who will ultimately pay the cost of these new, unvalidated requirements? The public.
    Will this drive up the cost of food? Yes!
    Will there be any material food improvement in food safety? No, because the vast majority of food safety problems aren’t even addressed by S 510/HR 2749.
    For anyone wanting the genuine facts about S 510 rather than the blather of the “Doc Mudds” of this world, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com or call me at 828/664-0060, 10 AM – 6 PM, Eastern Time, Monday – Saturday.

  • Scott

    I’d love to share the picture that I took today in the meat section at Albertsons……Fresh Express ready to eat lettuce
    under 5 rows of raw packaged meat?

  • Doc Mudd

    We clearly observe opposition to S.510 boils down to little more than a fanatic determination to do nothing, change nothing. And that in complete disregard for the safety of the food-consuming public (that’s you and me and our families!).
    S.510’s opponents simply fear having to clean up their operations. They loath the possibility of having to install safe equipment and they resist adopting safe growing & processing practices. Note carefully; their argument is all about themselves and their profits, never about the consumer’s welfare.
    A proper circus atmosphere would be incomplete without noisy alarmists disingenuously amplifying this selfish fear into dire warnings, however preposterous.
    ** We are expected to believe that S.510 will have the FDA doing everyone’s farming for them in fine detail! (Some unsavory and unsafe practices will be scrutinized, but that’s about it. Too few, if anything.)
    ** We are expected to believe that S.510 will forever prevent new producers entering the industry! (Barriers to legitimate entry are not changed, either for the good or bad, by food safety legislation)
    ** We are expected to believe that decade old criticism of a then rudimentary HACCP approach remains pertinent in the year 2010 and beyond! (An attitude characteristic of a do nothing, change nothing mindset).
    ** We are even expected to believe S.510 will, in some unspecified fashion, bring an end to applied scientific research in food safety! (Logically, knowledge will grow with experience and applied science will become more precise with practice).
    ** Perhaps most bewildering of all, we are expected to believe that the very occurance of yet another food safety recall, as described in the article, somehow justifies doing nothing, changing nothing to prevent future incidents!! (There can be no logical explanation for such a flawed cognitive leap)
    In fact, modernization of our food safety system will help established producers break some nasty, unsafe old habits at the same time new producers are forming good, safe ones. And all to the benefit of the consumer.
    Consumer confidence in the quality and safety of all food products, especially niche products, finally will be justified by more than an empty promise from an anonymous purveyor. Resulting customer assurance will grow strong market outlets for food producers of all sizes in all regions…if the legislation is universal and does not exempt special interests from compliance. Oddly enough in this case, that pressure comes from special interests representing the self-described “small producer” and “farm market” segments. And all this time we’ve been expected to believe that special interest lobbyists are tools of big evil corporations! Gradually, the truth outs!

  • Harry, many thanks for your cogent remarks and the Sperber references. Food recalls seem to swing between “too little, too late,” and “too much, too soon.” I believe that the FDA has good intentions, and even though it appears their actions are more for show than of substance – people still do become ill from exposure to pathogens from ready-to-eat packaged produce.
    Although the tone of Doc Mudd’s comments are emotional, and peppered with less than cordial ad hominem phrases – his point of view and support of mandatory and intensified regulatory oversight might be a position shared by those who have suffered the loss of a family member or experienced a serious illness due to purchasing and consuming improper handled or adulterated foods.
    Legislators respond to the outcry of frustrated constituents; they get input by committee, hear from interested parties, write a bill, get lobbied, get attention, etc. If the bill becomes law (or if the agency adopts new regulations) the politicians and appointees may claim “victory” and have something to talk about. Doesn’t mean the final “results” are evidence based or empirically supported or would have a realistic and rational cost vs. benefit to the consumer…

  • Doc Mudd

    Let’s be mindful, J. Hodges, of where one derives and directs his/her casual “ad hominem” accusations.
    Many may be fooled, but not all. Many (perhaps most?) experience difficulty transcending drama and emotion, while some (at least a few?) of us stubbornly adhere to time-honored unbiased scientific criterion.
    Any sophomorish debate tactic to evade rational scrutiny of the issue and to avoid engaging rational inquirers, eh?