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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued more information on the voluntary recall of green leaf lettuce initiated by The Nunes Company, Inc., of Salinas, Calif.
Although Nunes told the FDA it initiated the recall because of E.coli contamination of water used to irrigate the lettuce plants in the field during growing, the agency said there has been no determination of whether the E. coli found is O157:H7 - the highly infectious type that can cause life-threatening foodborne illness in humans-or the more common, generally harmless strains of E. coli that usually do not cause disease. FDA further said there has been no known human illness linked to this recall.
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Based on current information about the scope of this E. coli contamination, FDA said it views the firm's prompt action as commendable, because it is better to be cautious than to potentially put consumers at risk of contracting a serious foodborne illness. As it becomes aware of additional information about the contamination of the water supply that triggered the current voluntary recall, including the results of additional ongoing tests, the agency will make this information available to the public immediately, it said.
FDA restated its belief that further work needs to be done to examine and improve certain agricultural practices to minimize the risk of E. coli O157:H7 contamination of leafy greens. In August, the agency and the State of California launched the Lettuce Safety Initiative in August 2006 to minimize such risk and to create greater awareness by industry of FDA's commitment to food safety and concern about the safety of lettuce. The Initiative has since been broadened to include spinach and other leafy greens.