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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

30 E. coli O145 cases in Michigan, New York, Ohio and Tennessee linked to Romaine Lettuce – Grower known, but unnamed – so far

The CDC reports this week that a total of 23 confirmed and 7 probable E. coli O145 cases related to this outbreak have been reported from 4 states since March 1, 2010. The number of ill persons identified in each state with this strain is: MI (10 confirmed and 3 probable), NY (4 confirmed and 3 probable), OH (8 confirmed and 1 probable), and TN (1 confirmed).

Among the confirmed and probable cases with reported dates available, illnesses began between April 10, 2010 and April 26, 2010. Infected individuals range in age from 13 years old to 31 years old and the median age is 19 years. Sixty- six percent of patients are male.

Among the 30 patients with available information, 12 (40%) were hospitalized. Three patients have developed a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic-uremic syndrome, or HUS. No deaths have been reported.

According to an FDA release, last week, Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, voluntarily recalled certain romaine lettuce products because of the possible connection to the E.coli O145 foodborne illness outbreak. The recalled shredded romaine lettuce had “best if used by” dates of May 12 or earlier.

Federal and state investigators are attempting to determine the point in the supply chain where the contamination occurred. Investigations are in progress at the Freshway Foods processing facility and at a farm in Yuma, Arizona which grew the romaine lettuce supplied to Freshway Foods during the time period of interest.

Andrew Smith, Co., a Salinas, California-based grower-shipper who distributed the lettuce from the farm in Yuma, has contacted its customers to recall any lettuce originating from the farm. Vaughan Foods of Moore, Oklahoma, a supplier of processed and packaged lettuce for restaurants and other foodservice facilities, received romaine lettuce grown on the Yuma farm from Andrew Smith, Co. and is recalling romaine lettuce with “use-by” dates of May 9 and May 10. The recalled romaine lettuce distributed by Vaughan Foods was not available for purchase at retail by consumers. To date, no known illnesses have been associated with the romaine lettuce distributed by Vaughan Foods. According to records from Andrew Smith Co., no other consignees had romaine from this farm still in commerce. Lettuce harvested from other geographic areas does not appear to be associated with this outbreak.