Today, Freshway Foods announced a recall of romaine lettuce products that have been implicated as the source of a large E. coli O145 outbreak that has sickened more than 60 people in New York, Michigan, and Ohio. The victims of this outbreak appear to be primarily college students at The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and Daemen College in Buffalo.
Notably, according to the FDA recall notice:
This recall includes romaine lettuce products sold by Freshway Foods for food service outlets, wholesale, and in-store retail salad bars and delis; no other products are involved. Freshway Foods does not produce bulk, prepackaged romaine or bagged salad mixes containing romaine for sale in supermarkets, and therefore these products are not included in this recall.
Today, Sandra Eskin, Distinguished fellow of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, wrote on the Huffington Post that S 510, "the Food Safety Modernization Act," needs to be passed. Sandra states as follows:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the safety of 80 percent of America’s food supply. S. 510 requires the FDA, for the first time in its history, to prevent foods contaminated with disease-causing organisms from getting to restaurants, stores and our dinner tables instead of waiting until people get sick and die and then come in to clean up afterwards. It overhauls FDA’s entire approach to foodborne illness from reaction to prevention. The Food Safety Modernization Act also requires the FDA to inspect food processors every year instead of once a decade and gives the FDA power to prevent other countries from shipping contaminated food into the U.S. The U.S. House of Representatives passed its own bill last summer. The Senate needs to act now so the FDA can begin using these new authorities to reduce foodborne illness and death.
The recent E. coli O145 outbreak, now known to be linked to lettuce, and lettuce that likely was harvested in Yuma, California, is more grist for the mill. "The Food Safety Modernization Act" is not a perfect solution to all of our food safety ills, but it’s a good step in the right direction and it’s far better than simply living, or not, with the system we’ve got.