Recall of Listeria Tainted Romaine Lettuce Expands

True Leaf Farms has expanded its recently announced recall of romaine lettuce, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just wrote. The recall now includes 2,498 cartons of chopped or shredded romaine lettuce over concerns the produce was potentially contaminated with the dangerous, sometimes deadly, <"">Listeria monocytogenes pathogen.

The initial recalled product was shipped between September 12 and 13 to a retail food service distributor in Oregon who further distributed it to at least two additional states: Washington and Idaho. All the romaine lettuce affected by this recall has a “use by date” of 9/29/11.

At the agency’s request, the recall notification was expanded to cover more romaine lettuce that was shipped to wholesale food service distributors in Alberta, Canada and the following 19 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont. The only outlet where the romaine lettuce was available for direct consumer purchase was at Unified Grocers, Inc. Cash & Carry Smart Food Service stores in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. In that case, the product was packed in True Leaf Farms cardboard cartons and labeled with “2# bags, chopped romaine-Bag and box code B256-46438-8.” Photographs of the label on these bags can be viewed at

FDA notified True Leaf Farms that a sample taken as part of a random check from one bag of chopped romaine tested positive for the Listeria monocytogenes pathogen. True Leaf Farms is working with FDA to inform consumers of this recall and is also collaborating with its food service distribution customers to ensure that other romaine lettuce products that may be implicated are pulled from the market. “We are fully cooperating with the FDA, and we are contacting all of our customers to ensure prompt removal of any product potentially associated with the recall,” said Steve Church of True Leaf Farms. “We are committed to conducting this recall quickly and efficiently to reduce any risk to public health.”

True Leaf is advising consumers with the recalled romaine lettuce to not consume it and to either destroy the recalled lettuce or call Church Brothers, LLC—the sales agent for True Leaf Farms—for product pickup. Church Brothers, LLC, can be reached, toll-free, at 1-800-799-9475, at is Web site at for updates

As we’ve previously written, although no illnesses have been linked to this outbreak, it is very important to note that experts say that the effects of Listeria poisoning can take up to two months to manifest with listeriosis, the infection caused by the Listeria pathogen. Listeriosis is a potentially fatal infection that can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and nausea, and can also cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. For susceptible people, including the developing fetus, listeriosis can cause serious illnesses linked to the central nervous system. Listeriosis infects about 2,500 people in the U.S.; 500 deaths are reported annually.

Listeria poisoning is of particular concern to pregnant women, who are 20 times likelier to be infected with listeriosis, which can kill fetuses, causing miscarriages and stillbirths. Listeriosis can also prompt premature births, can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and can prompt neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

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