E. Coli Outbreak Hospitalizes 12, May Be Tied to Romaine Lettuce, FDA Says

An outbreak of 19 E. coli-related illnesses in Michigan, Ohio and New York may be linked to shredded romaine lettuce sold to grocery stores for use in salad bars and delis, U.S. regulators said.

The lettuce has been recalled by Freshway Foods, a closely held company based in Sidney, Ohio, the Food and Drug Administration said today in a statement on its website. Twelve of the 19 people with confirmed cases of E. coli have been hospitalized, including three with potentially life-threatening complications, the FDA said.

The recalled lettuce was sold to wholesalers and food- service outlets in 23 states and Washington, D.C., the FDA said. The lettuce also was sold for use in salad bars and delis in supermarkets owned by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., Ashville, North Carolina-based Ingles Markets Inc., and closely held Marsh Supermarkets Inc. and Giant Eagle Inc., Freshway said today in a statement on its website.     “We practice strict food safety guidelines to ensure that our products are as safe as possible, and we will continue to look for opportunities for improvement,” Freshway president Phil Gilardi said today in the statement. “We are voluntarily issuing this recall because we want to do everything possible to minimize risk to public health.”

The illnesses in the three states were linked to lettuce produced by one processing plant and the New York public health laboratory confirmed E. coli in an unopened bag of lettuce from the same facility, the FDA said in its statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Molly Peterson in Washington at mpeterson9@bloomberg.net

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