E. coli outbreak linked to possibly tainted lettuce; salad mixes recalled

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.

Fresh Food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is recalling the prepackaged products after learning last week from their romaine lettuce supplier that the vegetables may have been contaminated with Escherichia coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Saturday. Officials said the recalled products have not been tied to any E. coli-related illnesses.

The recalled items, which were labeled “Great to Go by Market District,” were shipped to retailers in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and had sell-by dates of April 13 to April 16.

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that the outbreak, which began in mid-March, may have been caused by bagged and pre-chopped romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona, region, near the border to Southern California, and distributed to retailers across the country. The agency has not identified specific farms or companies that grew, supplied and distributed the contaminated vegetables.

Thirty-five people from 11 states have become sick; 22, including three people suffering from kidney failure, have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No one has died.

Health officials said these people became ill between March 22 and March 31; the majority of them reported that they ate romaine lettuce within a week before they became sick. Many said they ate salads with romaine lettuce at restaurants, and these businesses told health officials that they used store-bought chopped romaine lettuce.

The highest number of illness was reported in Idaho and Pennsylvania, with eight and nine cases, respectively. Seven were reported ill in New Jersey. The others were in Washington state, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Virginia and Connecticut.

Health officials in Montana and Arizona also said they each have three confirmed cases of E. coli infections, but federal officials have not linked those cases to romaine lettuce from Arizona. The CDC has not responded to an inquiry about the two states.

Health and food safety officials are advising consumers who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including prepackaged salad mixes, to throw the vegetables away even if they’ve been partially eaten. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, officials said. An investigation is continuing, and no products have been recalled.MiamiTight.com 4 more

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