Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, has recalled lettuce sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia after a federal investigation got underway, examining the possible connection of a Yuma, Arizona lettuce farm in an E. coli outbreak that has sickened as many as 29 people. Three people have life-threatening illnesses, after being diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Several college students at the University of Michigan, Ohio State and Daemen College have been affected by the E. coli outbreak. Most of the students became sick in April and have already recovered from the outbreak. It is unknown why college students were sickened. The FDA reports the lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis. As Mary Clare Jalonick of the AP reports, New York state's Public Health Laboratory discovered the contamination in a bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce on Wednesday, after local authorties had been investigation an outbreak for several weeks.
The recall applies to romaine lettuce with a "best if used by" date before or on May 12. There are no additional shipments coming from the farm under investigation because the winter lettuce season is already over. Yuma is the source for much of the nation's lettuce in the winter. However, once the winter season is over, farmers switch from lettuce from other crops.
E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is a bacteria that causes severe cramps and diarrhea. It typically comes from eating undercooked ground beef, drinking contaminated water, drinking unpasteurized milk, or working with cattle. People who are infected with E. coli are highly contagious. The only treatment is to increase fluid intake and watch for complications. An infected person can become seriously dehydrated, in which case they will need to go to the emergency room to receive an IV.
The recalled lettuce was sold in the following states: 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.