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News

Freshway Foods Voluntarily Recalls Products Containing Romaine Lettuce Because of Possible Health Risk

May 6, 2010

Sidney, Ohio - 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. The company is working with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to inform consumers of this recall.

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.

E. coli O145 causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

The recalled romaine lettuce products were sold to wholesalers and food service outlets in the following states east of the Mississippi river: Alabama, Connecticut, 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 recalled romaine products were also sold for distribution to in-store salad bars and delis for Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores in the states listed above.

The recall comes after FDA informed Freshway Foods the afternoon of Wednesday, May 5 that a previously unopened product sample in a New York state laboratory tested positive for the bacteria. Freshway Foods traced the entire lot of romaine products and is advising customers to cease use and distribution of it immediately. This recall may be linked to an outbreak investigation in New York, Michigan, and Ohio.

Freshway Foods has kept the FDA and other public health authorities fully apprised of its handling of this matter, and it continues to cooperate with them to identify the cause. An extensive FDA investigation of Freshway Foods' facility in Sidney has not uncovered any contamination at the plant.

"Freshway Foods is committed to our customers and their consumers who enjoy our products every day. 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," said Phil Gilardi, President. "We are voluntarily issuing this recall because we want to do everything possible to minimize risk to public health."

Product instructions for consumers and the public at large:
Consumers who purchased romaine from an in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores in the states previously listed should not use or consume the product.

It is important to note that bulk, prepackaged romaine or bagged salad mixes containing romaine that were purchased in supermarkets are not included in this recall; Freshway Foods does not produce these products.

Consumers with questions may call Freshway Foods’ information desk at 1-888-361-7106 (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, M-F) or visit our web site for updates, www.freshwayfoods.com.    

Product instructions for food service outlets, wholesalers, and  in-store retail salad bars and delis:
This recall includes romaine lettuce products sold by Freshway Foods for sale in food service, wholesale, and in-store salad bars and delis. Please cease use and distribution of all products containing romaine lettuce and sold by Freshway Foods with a USE BY date of May 12 or earlier. Product descriptions are provided below and on our website at www.freshwayfoods.com.

Owners of restaurants, in-store salad bars, in-store delis and other food service outlets who have questions may call their Freshway Foods representative, or visit our web site for updates, including disposition of recalled products.

Click here to see a list of recalled products containing romaine lettuce with USE BY dates prior to and including May 12. Please make special note of the item code, which identifies Freshway Foods as the supplier.