I was reading the Saratogian and the Poughkeepsie Journal this morning and was struck by the fact that once again consumers of food – this time kids – inform us by getting sick of yet another foodborne illness outbreak – this time E. coli O145 tainted romaine lettuce – Again, AFTER they get sick. Great thought, our kids are the canaries in the E. coli O145 coal mine.

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce sent from the Wappingers Central School District to the New York state Health Department tested positive for E. coli O145 bacteria and led to a national recall AFTER several students were sickened. Two students from the district were hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center last month with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Two others were hospitalized.

In a letter (full letter below) to parents Thursday, Wappingers Superintendent James Parla said there have not been any new reports of related illnesses in students since April 25. Parla said as of Thursday, there had been two confirmed cases of E. coli, three probable cases and one suspected case. The students go to Roy C. Ketcham High School, John Jay High School Wappingers Junior High School and Van Wyck Middle School, he said.

And, according to the Saratogian, the Saratoga Springs City School District is warning parents that children at four of its schools may have been served Freshway Foods romaine lettuce contaminated with the E. coli bacteria. The lettuce that was served at Caroline Street, Division Street and Geyser Road elementary schools, and the high school, has been removed, school officials said in a voice mail blast to parents Friday.‚Ä®

Government and industry, we can do better than this.