Lettuce is recalled over E. coli concerns
SALINAS (AP) – Less than a week after the Food and Drug Administration lifted its warning on fresh spinach grown in California’s Salinas Valley, a popular brand of lettuce grown in the region has been recalled over concerns of E. coli contamination.
Salinas-based Nunes Company Inc. initiated a voluntary recall Sunday of green leaf lettuce purchased last week under the Foxy brand name. Foxy is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of lettuce, celery, broccoli, vegetable platters and stir-fry mixes.
So far, the lettuce does not appear to have caused any illnesses, the company said in a statement.
The recall covered lettuce purchased in grocery stores Oct. 3-6 in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. It was also sold to distributors in those states who may have sold it to restaurants.
The recalled lettuce was packaged as “Green Leaf 24 Count, waxed carton,” and “Green Leaf 18 Count, cellophane sleeve, returnable carton.” Packaging is stamped with lot code 6SL0024.
Executives ordered the recall after learning that water used to irrigate lettuce fields may have been contaminated with E. coli, according to the company statement. E. coli can proliferate in uncooked produce, raw milk, unpasteurized juice, contaminated water and meat.
Vice President Tom Nunes Jr. and attorney Brett R. Harrell did not respond Sunday to phone calls and an e-mail seeking comment.
FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said the federal agency is aware of the company’s voluntary recall but had no details on the case.
“As a standard course of action, we would expect the firm to identify the source of the contamination and take steps to … ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” Zawisza wrote in an e-mail Sunday.
It’s unclear whether bacteria in the Salinas Valley lettuce fields comes from the same source as the E. coli found in spinach that has sickened nearly 200 people and has been linked to three deaths nationwide.
Pathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria, or E. coli, may cause diarrhea and bloody stools. Although most healthy adults recover from the illness within a week without long-term side effects, some people may develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.
The illness is most likely to occur in young children, senior citizens and people with compromised immune systems. In extreme cases, it can lead to kidney damage or death.
The recall at Nunes Company, a family owned business with more than 20,000 acres of cropland in Arizona and California, comes days after federal agents searched two Salinas Valley produce companies connected to the nationwide spinach scare.
The outbreak has resulted in 199 cases of illness, including 102 hospitalizations and the deaths of two senior citizens and a child, according to the FDA. It also led to a two-week FDA warning to avoid fresh spinach.
San Juan Bautista-based Natural Selection LLC, which packages spinach sold under 34 brand names and supplies spinach to other food processors, was implicated in the E. coli outbreak after 11 bags of Dole-brand baby spinach tested positive for the same bacteria strain found in people who fell ill after eating spinach.
Epidemiologists also warned consumers this week to stay away from bottled carrot juice after a Florida woman was paralyzed and three people in Georgia experienced respiratory failure, apparently due to botulism poisoning.
All four people had recently drank juice from Bolthouse Farms, the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Friday. The FDA is investigating other possible causes and has issued a warning to consumers not to drink carrot juice from Bolthouse with a use-by date of Nov. 11 or earlier. Bolthouse is based in Bakersfield.
Botulism poisoning symptoms include double vision, droopy eyelids, trouble speaking or swallowing and paralysis on both sides of the body that progresses from the neck down.
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