E. Coli Tainted Lettuce Linked to Arizona Farm

A multi-state <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">E. coli O145 outbreak that appears to be linked to contaminated Romaine Lettuce is also being linked to an Arizona farm. According to the Associated Press (AP), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators are looking at a farm in Yuma.

Last week, we wrote that Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, announced a recall of certain Shredded Romaine Lettuce products due to a possible connection between the recalled Shredded Romaine Lettuce and an outbreak of food poisoning, according to the FDA. Cases as of last week involved illnesses in Michigan, Ohio, and New York. On May 5, 2010, the New York state Public Health Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, in Albany reported finding the E. coli O145 pathogen in an unopened bag of Freshway Foods Shredded Romaine Lettuce.

Multiple lines of evidence implicated the Shredded Romaine Lettuce from one processing facility as a source of infections in the multi-state outbreak. According to New York magazine, as of last week, a total of 25 states and 19 illnesses, with 12 hospitalizations, were tallied. Three illnesses involved the potentially life threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), in which the body’s blood-clotting mechanisms are altered, causing blocked circulation or bleeding in the brain or kidneys. Last week, the FDA, said New York magazine, was focusing on Arizona-grown Romaine Lettuce.

A Freshway Foods press release said the recalled Shredded Romaine Lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, and some in-store salad bars and delis 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. According to the AP, Devon Beer, Freshway Foods’ vice president, said the firm worked with the FDA to trace the tainted Romaine to a grower in Yuma, but would not release the name. Freshway Foods recalled Romaine Lettuce sold under both the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands, said the AP.

Some college students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Ohio State in Columbus; and Daemen College in Amherst, New York, have reported falling ill, said health departments in those states, wrote the AP. According to Susan Cerniglia, spokeswoman for the public health department in Washtenaw County—Ann Arbor, Michigan—said that the students probably did not eat tainted food on campus and were likelier sickened from eating at a local restaurant, adding that most of those who fell ill did not reside on the University of Michigan campus, noted the AP.

The FDA warns that symptoms of infection with harmful E. coli may range from none to mild diarrhea to severe complications. Acute symptoms include severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which may be bloody; patients may progress to serious complications, such as kidney damage. FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage anyone with the symptoms listed to immediately contact his/her health care provider. The CDC explained that E. coli O145, the bacteria responsible for this outbreak are referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC. STECs have been linked to the potentially deadly HUS and are grouped by serotypes such as O157 or O145, the serotype in this outbreak.

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