U.S. Expands Lettuce Recall for E. Coli Contamination
One personal injury lawsuit already filed
By Gerri Elder
A recall of romaine lettuce apparently contaminated with E. coli bacteria that sickened students has expanded as United States government health and food safety departments look for the source.
The Food and Drug Administration said recently that a food distributor in Moore, Okla. is now recalling romaine lettuce that came from an Arizona farm that was the source for the lettuce that led to the sicknesses, according to the Associated Press. Students in Ohio, Michigan and New York fell ill because of E. coli from the lettuce that came from the Yuma, Ariz farm.
At least 19 people have experienced sickness in relation to outbreaks of E. coli, according to the AP. This particular round of outbreaks came from a rare strain of the disease that doctors found are difficult to diagnose.
Representatives from the federal centers for Disease Control said they are also looking at an additional 10 possible cases of E. coli poisoning from tainted lettuce.
The actual Yuma farm has not been identified. The FDA is now investigating the farm where the romaine lettuce in question was harvested, in order to find the specific point in the supply chain where the contamination happened.
A majority of the recalled was sold and shipped to food service establishments. The recall does not include bagged lettuce sold in grocery stores, according to the AP.
Many of the people who fell ill to E. coli poisoning are college students. In the New York area, students in high school and middle school were infected, including a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old who both developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. The condition can cause bleeding in the brain or kidneys.
Health authorities in Dutchess County, New York, where the students became sick, said they expect everyone who was infected to make a full recovery.
Freshway Foods said last week that its product recall included romaine lettuce sold in 23 states throughout the country, as well as Washington D.C., under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands, according to AP.
The FDA has not found any contamination at the company’s processing plant. New York officials first discovered the E. coli contamination in a bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce after local authorities were looking into the outbreak for several weeks.
The actual strain of E. coli that infected the lettuce is known as 0145, which is a difficult strain to identify and might go unreported.
One lawsuit was filed by a Columbus, Ohio resident who is claiming sickness from eating lettuce contaminated with E. coli 0145. The suit names Freshway, the Arizona farm and a distributor.