Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak Prompts Recall in More Than 20 States

On May 6, 2010, Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, announced a recall of all romaine lettuce products with a “use by” date of May 12 or earlier, following the discovery of E. coli bacteria contamination in an unopened package of wholesale Freshway Foods shredded Romaine lettuce.

The recall was issued after 19 cases of E. coli O145 illness were reported in Michigan, New York, and Ohio. Twelve people were hospitalized, and three people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of E. coli poisoning that can lead to organ failure, kidney damage, paralysis, blindness, high blood pressure, and even death.

The recall affects all Freshway or Imperial Sysco brand Romaine lettuce or Romaine mixes that were distributed to restaurants, supermarket salad bars, and delis. The company advises consumers to avoid “grab and go” salads from salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh Stores.

The lettuce was distributed to stores and restaurants in 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 Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage consumers to contact a doctor immediately if they suspect E. coli illness or experience symptoms of abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhea, or vomiting.