Lettuce Recall Expands as E. coli Contamination Concerns Grow

f you’re in a rush during your lunch break, don’t grab a salad from your local grocery store’s deli or salad bar—at least not any time soon. According to the Food and Drug Administration, at least 23 states have recalled lettuce after 19 individuals reported illness after recently consumed lettuce. The lettuce, which is contaminated with a rare strain of E. coli O145, was sold at grocery store delis and in-store salad bars. Furthermore, “grab and go” salads sold at Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, Marsh grocery stores and Kroger also contain the contaminated lettuce.

Originally, federal investigators searched the Freshway lettuce plant in Sidney, Ohio after discovering E. coli contaminated lettuce in New York. However, that search failed to uncover any contamination and recent reports link the contaminated lettuce to a Yuma, Arizona farm. Currently, the FDA is investigating the farm to confirm their suspicions.

The lettuce was sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The first illnesses were reported in a University of Michigan student and also in students at Daemen College in Amherst, NY. Overall, 10 confirmed illnesses have been reported in Michigan, 2 in New York, and 7 in Ohio. Furthermore, 12 individuals have been hospitalized with a severe condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening condition that can alter the body’s ability to clot blood and can result in blocked circulation or bleeding in the brain or kidneys.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the lettuce recall was expanded even further when an Oklahoma distributor, Vaughn Foods, recalled their lettuce with an expiration date of May 9 or 10. The company reports that they sold the lettuce mainly to restaurants and food service facilities, not to grocery stores like the other lettuce brands.