Earlier today, Fresh Express, an industry leader in food safety, recalled romaine-based salad products due to potential contamination by E. coli O157:H7. The recall applies largely to products distributed in Canada, but some of the recalled products were also apparently distributed to retail outlets in South Dakota. The recall was prompted by tests on Fresh Express product that revealed positive tests for E. coli O157:H7.
Here is a summary of several other produce-related recalls and outbreaks, excluding the current Fresh Express recall, that have occurred since April 2010.
Fresh Express lettuce products caused a Salmonella outbreak in the “Upper-Midwest” in late April or early May 2010. Not much is known about this outbreak, at least publicly, because the health organizations involved in the investigation did not publicly reveal that the outbreak had occurred.
Several weeks after the outbreak, however, Fresh Express recalled several types of ready-to-eat salads after Salmonella was found in a package tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recalled products included lettuce mixes, Caesar salad and other salad kits, hearts of romaine and other items. The recall extended to products sold in 26 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Also in May 2010, Organicgirl Produce recalled a limited number of cases of 10 oz organicgirl Baby Spinach with an expired Use-by Date of May 22 and Product Code 11A061167 due to potential Salmonella contamination. The recall included only 336 cases of the 10 oz. package size of organicgirl Baby Spinach sold in six states: Alabama, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin, Arizona and California. Like the Fresh Express recall, Organicgirl recalled the baby spinach products due to a positive test for Salmonella in a random sample test collected and conducted by a third-party laboratory for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
As of early June, at least 35 individuals had been infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Newport in 11 states after consuming raw alfalfa sprouts manufactured by Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood, CA. The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: AZ (2), CA (17), CO (1), ID (5), IL (1), MO (1), NM (1), NV (2), OR (2), PA (1), and WI (2). Among those for whom information is available about when symptoms started, illnesses began between March 1, 2010 and May 16, 2010. Case-patients range in age from <1 to 75 years old, and the median age is 36 years. Sixty-six percent of patients are female. Among the 30 patients with available hospitalization information, 7 (23%) were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.