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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Romaine Lettuce E. coli O145 Outbreak – The FDA to us – “You can’t handle the truth!”

What we know to date:

  • There are 23 confirmed and 7 probable E. coli O145 cases related to eating romaine lettuce in Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee manufactured by Freshway Foods and grown by “the Yuma farm.”
  • Investigators in New York obtained an E. coli O145 isolate from an unopened bag of romaine lettuce manufactured by Freshway Foods and grown by “the Yuma farm” that matches the outbreak strain.
  • The Ohio Department of Agriculture has also tested bagged lettuce implicated in the outbreak and found a second, unrelated strain of E coli in a bag of shredded romaine lettuce from Freshway Foods and grown by “the Yuma farm.”
  • A case-control study in Michigan found a significant association between illness and consumption of romaine lettuce from Freshway Foods and grown by “the Yuma farm.”
  • Among the 30 patients with available information, 12 (40%) were hospitalized.
  • Three patients have developed kidney failure known as hemolytic-uremic syndrome, or HUS.
  • Freshway Foods voluntarily recalled certain romaine lettuce products because of the 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 was grown by “the Yuma farm.”
  • Andrew Smith, Co., a grower-shipper who distributed the lettuce from “the Yuma farm” in Yuma, has contacted its customers to recall any lettuce originating from “the Yuma farm.” Vaughan Foods 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.

What we do not know to date:

  • How many people are really sick because the CDC said there is limited surveillance data on illnesses involving non-O157 serotypes of Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC), including O145. “Therefore E coli O145 may go unreported. Because it is more difficult to identify than E. coli O157, many clinical laboratories do not test for non-O157 STEC infection.”
  • Who the hell is “the Yuma farm,” and why does the FDA think we “can’t handle the truth?”


It is a good thing that we have a lawsuit to sort this all out.  See, we get to put Freshway under oath – Q:  “Who did you buy romaine lettuce from?”  A:  “Andrew Smith.”  Then we get to put Andrew Smith under oath – Q:  “Who did you buy romaine lettuce from?”  A:  “?”  But, believe me, it will NOT be “the Yuma Farm.”

  • Maureen Reilly

    “The Yuma Farm”
    I have visited some farms in Yuma where tender greens are growing just a few feet from where sewage sludge is being spread on neighboring fields.
    Flies move freely between the pathogenic sewage sludges dumped there by Orange County, and the nearby shoots of lettuce.
    It is a nightmare. The public needs to know where the contaminated crops orginate.
    Maureen Reilly
    Sludge Watch