Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, is recalling lettuce sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia because of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 19 people, three of them with life-threatening symptoms. The FDA said that 12 people had been hospitalized. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking at ten other cases probably linked to the outbreak.
The recalled romaine lettuce was sold under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands. College students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ohio State in Columbus and Daemen College in Amherst, New York, are among those affected, according to local health departments in those states. The FDA was focusing its investigation on lettuce grown in Arizona as a possible source for the outbreak.
E. coli infection can cause mild diarrhea or more severe complications, including kidney damage. The three patients with life-threatening symptoms were diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause bleeding in the brain or kidneys. It was not immediately clear why students on college campuses were sickened. The lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis.
The most common strain of E. coli found in U.S. patients is E. coli O157. The CDC said the strain linked to the lettuce, E. coli 0145, is more difficult to identify and may go unreported. The recalled lettuce has a “best if used by” date of May 12th or earlier. The recall also affects “grab and go” salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores.
The lettuce was sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the 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.
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