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An outbreak of E. coli O145 that has sickened over 60 people in multiple states is linked to contaminated romaine lettuce from Sidney, Ohio-based Freshway.
The outbreak, which is still under investigation, involves cases in Michigan, Ohio, and New York of illnesses due to infection with E. coli O145, a harmful bacteria. The recalled shredded romaine lettuce has a “best if used by” date of May 12 or earlier.
On Wednesday, the New York State Public Health Laboratory in Albany reported finding E. coli O145 in an unopened bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce being recalled.
Freshway said the recalled shredded romaine lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, and some in-store salad bars and delis in the following areas: 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 supplier advises restaurants, distributors and retailers to throw out or refrain from using shredded romaine lettuce from Freshway with the “best if used by” date noted above. Additionally, Freshway is advising consumers not to eat grab-and-go salads sold at in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh stores.
Shredded romaine lettuce from the company with “best if used by” dates after May 12 aren’t involved in the voluntary recall. Romaine lettuce and other types of lettuce and leafy greens from other producers are also unaffected by the recall.
Multiple lines of evidence have implicated shredded romaine lettuce from a single processing facility as a source of infections in a multistate outbreak to which this recall may be related.
To date, 19 confirmed cases of E. coli O145 illnesses have been reported from Michigan, Ohio and New York. These illnesses include 12 individuals who have been hospitalized, and three with a potentially life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The evidence includes preliminary results of product traceback investigations that indicate that the shredded romaine lettuce consumed by people in three states who subsequently fell ill originated from one processing facility, preliminary results of a case-control study in one state that found a statistically significant association between E. coli O145 infection and ingestion of lettuce from the same processing facility, and recovery of E. coli O145 from an unopened package of shredded romaine lettuce from the same processing facility that was obtained from a foodservice entity associated with the outbreak.
For more information on the outbreak, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/.