Freshway Romaine Lettuce E. coli O145 Outbreak - Michigan, Ohio, New York, Tenn, and Penn


Freshway Foods is voluntarily recalling romaine lettuce from 23 states due to contamination with E. coli O145. An E. coli O145 outbreak in three states has reported E. coli illnesses clustered around three colleges: University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ohio State University in Columbus, and Daemen College in Amherst, NY. Tennessee has also reported illnesses.

As of May 5 the official count of illnesses is 19 confirmed and 10 probable cases in 3 states since March 1, 2010. The number of ill persons identified in each state with this strain is strain is:MI (11 confirmed and 2 probable), NY (5 confirmed and 2 probable), OH (8 confirmed and 3 probable), PA (1 confirmed), and TN (1 confirmed). Among the 29 patients with available information, 12 were hospitalized. Three patients have developed a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic-uremic syndrome, or HUS. However, since E. coli O145 is rare and almost never tested for, it is likely that there are many more ill.

The May 6 FDA recall press release lists the products recalled, and indicates that they were distributed to wholesale, food service, and salad bar-deli outlets under the brand names Freshway and Imperial Sysco with a use-by date of May 12. The recalled lettuce was distributed to 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 recalled romaine products were also sold for distribution to in-store salad bars and delis for Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores in the states listed.

Children in the Saratoga and Wappingers Falls areas of NY were sickened by lettuce distributed to their school district. Two of those children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication that can cause kidney failure and other life-threatening illnesses.

On May 10, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio testing of romaine lettuce had returned a positive result for another strain of E. coli, one that was different from the strain known to be involved in the E. coli O145 outbreak. The exact strain of E. coli recovered in the State of Ohio’s lettuce tests is not yet publicly known. It is not, however, E. coli O157 or O145.

On May 11, Marlerclark filed the first suit on behalf of a man in Ohio.

The CDC, on May 12, upped the case count to 26 confirmed cases with another 7 possible. These most recent cases came from Tennessee.

E. coli is often contracted by consuming food or beverage that has been contaminated by animal (especially cattle) manure. The majority of foodborne E. coli outbreaks have been traced to contaminated ground beef; however the Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that fully 25 percent of E. coli outbreaks (1990-1998) were sourced to leafy greens. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach can become contaminated in fields or during processing when E. coli bacteria enter agricultural water, dirt, or even air. Marler Clark has 17 years of experience dealing with the aftermath of E. coli illnesses. If we can assist you in any way, fill out the contact box to the right or call us at 866-770-2032.

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