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MONTEREY, Calif. - The unholy pairing of leafy greens and E. coli, which rocked the fresh produce industry repeatedly in recent seasons, has reared its head again, as Dole Fresh Vegetables here yesterday recalled all its packaged salad products bearing the label "Dole Hearts Delight" sold in the U.S. and Canada, after a sample in a grocery store in Canada was found through random screening to contain E. coli O157:H7.
The processor, a division of Dole Food Company, Inc., said that it had not received any reports of illness linked to the ready-to-eat blend of romaine, green leaf, and butter lettuce hearts. It said no other Dole salad products are involved.
"Our overriding concern is for consumer safety," said Eric Schwartz, president of Dole Fresh Vegetables, of the decision to launch the recall. "We are working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and several U.S. state health departments."
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Sept. 16 had warned Canadian consumers to dispose of the bagged salads if they had them, and told stores to remove them from shelves immediately. Dole's voluntary recall came a day later.
The product was sold in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces in Canada and in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and neighboring U.S. states starting the weekend before last, Dole spokesman Marty Ordman a told the Associated Press last night.
The greens in the blend were grown in California, Colorado, and Ohio, and processed at Dole's plant in Springfield, Ohio on Sept. 6, Ordman said. The company distributed 88 cases were distributed in Canada and 755 cases in the U.S., he said.
The company said its distributed the product in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces in Canada; and in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and neighboring states in the U.S.
The recalled salad was sold in plastic bags of 227 grams in Canada and one-half pound in the U.S., with UPC code 071430-01038, with a "best if used by (BIUB)" date of September 19, 2007, and a production code of "A24924A" or "A24924B" stamped on the package.
Dole Food Company, Inc., with 2006 revenues of $6.2 billion, is the world's largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and fresh-cut flowers.