Fresh Express Recalls Hearts of Romaine Salad for Possible Listeria

Fresh Express Incorporated just issued a recall of its Hearts of Romaine Salad over potential contamination with the Listeria pathogen. The recall involves a limited quantity of expired 10-ounce Hearts of Romaine Salads with the expired Use-by Date of August 23, 2012 and a Product Code beginning with “G222″

No illnesses have been reported in connection with this recall; no other Fresh Express products are involved. The Listeria pathogen is unique because it thrives in colder temperatures, such as those found in refrigerated environments. Listeria also has an unusually long incubation period—up to 70 days, according to experts. The pathogen also well tolerates heat and dry temperatures, adding further challenges to the pathogen’s eradication and length to expected reporting time frames.

Listeria monocytogenes can lead to the listeriosis infection, a potentially fatal disorder that can cause high fever; severe headache, neck stiffness, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and nausea, especially in those with weakened immune systems, infants, and the elderly. Vulnerable populations, such as the developing fetus, can suffer serious central nervous system problems. The infection can also prompt premature births, or the death of the fetus via miscarriage and stillbirth; pregnant women are 20 times likelier to become infected. Listeriosis can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and to neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

Fresh Express customer service representatives have been contacting retailers to confirm that the recalled Hearts of Romaine have been removed from store inventories and shelves in accordance with standard procedures for products that have reached their expiration date.

Customers with questions may contact their Fresh Express customer service representative. And, although it is unlikely that consumers may still be in possession of this expired and recalled product, if they do, the bagged salad should be discarded and not consumed. The Fresh Express Consumer Response Center can be reached, toll-free, at 1.800.242.5472 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

The recall followed an isolated incident in which a sample of a single package of 10-ounce Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine Salad yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes. The sampling was part of the FDA’s random sample testing program. The recalled salad packages bear a Product Code beginning with “G222″ and a Use-by Date of August 23, which is located in the upper, right-hand corner of the package. The UPC 71279 26102 is located on the back of the package, below the barcode. The 10-ounce Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine were distributed in limited quantities to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia.

Last year, Fresh Express issued a recall of 2,939 cases of its 9-ounce Bag Spinach following random sample test that yielded a positive result for the Salmonella pathogen. Most recently, we wrote that Dole recalled bagged salads, also for Listeria contamination. Dole Fresh Vegetables recalled 1,039 cases of its 10-ounce Dole Italian Blend bagged salad, which were distributed in eight U.S. states.

Bagged salads have been at the root of a number of Dole Fresh Vegetable recalls. In fact, Dole previously issued a recall of 2,598 cases of Dole Hearts of Romaine salad over potential contamination with the Listeria monocytogenes pathogen and we recently wrote that Dole issued a recall for 1,077 cases of Romaine salads, also over potential Listeria contamination.

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