E-coli suspected in 3 critical illnesses linked to lettuce recall

A widespread voluntary recall of bagged romaine lettuce spanning twenty-three states has been initiated after 19 people became ill, three critically.

The bags of lettuce, manufactured by Freshway Foods, have been sold across Alabama, Connecticut, 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, according to the FDA. Affected batches have a use-by date of May 12th, but since the product is not available for retail sale, consumers may have a difficult time keeping an eye out for the suspect veggie.

The lettuce is more likely to be found in cafeterias and on salad bars, and students at three colleges and universities are among those stricken with symptoms from the E. coli 0145 bacteria. (It is not yet confirmed that the affected product was distributed in the schools’ cafeterias.) Symptoms of infection with the sometimes-deadly E. coli bacteria range dramatically from unnoticeable to life-threatening, and kidney failure can occur in immunocompromised individuals, the elderly and children.

Time recaps a press release from Sysco Foods, who distribute the Freshway Foods brand:

The Freshway Foods press release advises restaurants, distributors and retailers in affected states to throw out or refrain from using shredded romaine lettuce with the May 12 use by date. The company also advises consumers not to eat “grab and go” salads sold in in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh stores in those states. However, bulk, prepackaged romaine or bagged salad mixes containing romaine that were purchased in supermarkets are not included in the recall; Freshway Foods does not produce these products.

Consumers may call Freshway Foods’ information desk at 888-361-7106 (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday) with questions, or visit the company’s website, where the company has a list of the recalled products.

Illnesses related to this particular recall have occurred in Michigan, Ohio and New York.