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Media Room Jose Rodriguez
Director of Public Affairs & Communications
(614) 645-6928
jrrodriguez@columbus.gov

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Produce Linked to E. Coli Cases -- 5.6.2010

COLUMBUS PUBLIC HEALTH – PRESS RELEASE
FOR THURSDAY, MAY 6

 
PRODUCE LINKED TO E. COLI CASES
Lettuce in New York Tests Positive for E. Coli and Recall Underway

The Food and Drug Administration informed Columbus Public Health today that lettuce samples collected in the state of New York have tested positive for E. coli O145. As of today, these samples have not been matched by PFGE (a type of DNA fingerprinting) to the New York outbreak. Their findings did reveal the same bacterium serotype associated with the Columbus outbreak.

Columbus Public Health is asking any food service operations that received the product issued on the recall to remove the product immediately. 

Columbus is one of five jurisdictions in three states that are actively investigating E. coli O145 infections that have made a number of Ohioans sick.  New York and Michigan are conducting investigations as well.

Columbus Public Health (CPH) is conducting an analytical study in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health, Franklin County Board of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results should help further pinpoint what made people sick and preliminary results are expected next week.

Freshway Foods is voluntarily recalling products containing romaine lettuce with a use by date of May 12 or earlier because they have the potential to be contaminated with Escherichia coli O145 bacteria (E. coli O145). The products were sold under the Freshway brand and Imperial Sysco brand. 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.

While food safety is a complex issue, local public health agencies work with food facilities everyday to assure the products they serve are prepared and served safely.  Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Long clarifies, “While the recalled lettuce should not be consumed, that does not mean that other products are not safe to eat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet.”

Residents can also take steps to minimize the risks of foodborne illnesses by washing their fruits and vegetables, cleaning food counters and surfaces to prevent contamination between foods, cooking meat to 160 degrees and washing their hands well before cooking, after preparing food and before eating. For more on food safety, visit www.publichealth.columbus.gov. Consumers with questions may call Freshway Food’s information desk at 1-888-361-7106 (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, M-F) or visit their web site at www.freshwayfoods.com.

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