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FDA Links E. coli O145 Freshway Lettuce Outbreak to Arizona

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 12.05.44 PM.pngThis Environmental Assessment was conducted in response to a multi-state foodborne disease outbreak CDC investigation involving 33 cases of E. coli O145 infection in five states in the spring of 2010. An epidemiologic investigation found that the illnesses were associated with the consumption of shredded romaine lettuce processed at one firm (Freshway) in Ohio. FDA’s investigation at the processor did not identify a likely source of contamination at the firm (Freshway). FDA conducted a traceback investigation from the processor that led to the farm (FDA does not name).

This Environmental Assessment was preceded by an epidemiological and traceback investigation and regulatory inspection of the processor (Freshway) of the produce implicated in the investigation, the results of which identified the farm (FDA does not name) upon which the lettuce was grown as the most likely source of the contamination.

Nonetheless, FDA has made no definitive determination regarding how or at what point in the supply chain E. coli O145 contaminated the lettuce associated with the outbreak. The suspect romaine lettuce was grown in four fields of a farm in Wellton, Arizona.

The subsequent environmental assessment initially identified six potential sources of STEC in the Wellton, Arizona area; three Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), one housing development with a co-located sewage treatment facility, one recreational vehicle (R.V.) park with multiple septic leach systems, and the seasonal grazing of sheep on harvested wheat and alfalfa fields.

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