Reporter's Notebook

Foodservice romaine recall expanded to 19 states, Canada

Because of possible contamination by Listeria monocytogenes, True Leaf Farms has expanded a recall of two-pound bags of romaine lettuce for foodservice from 90 cartons of chopped product to 2,498 cartons of chopped or shredded leaves, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

No illnesses related to the recalled products have been reported, the FDA and the Salinas, Calif.-based company said.

True Leaf Farms officials said the recalled bags were packed in True Leaf Farms cardboard cartons distributed by Church Brothers LLC that shipped between Sept. 12 and 13. They said all bags carry a “use by date” of 9/29/11 and are labeled as: 2# bags, chopped romaine - Bag and box code B256-46438-8.

The only outlets where the romaine was available for direct consumer purchase involved Unified Grocers Inc. Cash & Carry Smart Food Service stores in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, True Leaf Farms said.

The recall initially announced Sept. 29 was spurred by a positive finding of Listeria in a randomly sampled bag of True Leaf Farms romaine, according to FDA. It involved 90 cartons sent to an Oregon foodservice distributor doing business in that state, Washington and Idaho.

Shortly after the original recall, True Leaf Farms, which said it was responding to a request by the FDA, expanded the recall to cover 2,498 cartons supplied to wholesale foodservice distributors with clientele in 19 states and Alberta, Canada. The company said the states include Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont.

“We are fully cooperating with the FDA, and we are contacting all of our customers to ensure prompt removal of any product potentially associated with the recall,” said Steve Church, chief executive of True Leaf Farms' parent company Church Brothers. “We are committed to conducting this recall quickly and efficiently to reduce any risk to public health.”

Anyone who has in their possession the recalled romaine should either destroy it or call Church Brothers at 1-800-799-9475 to arrange for product pickup.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly or others with weakened immune systems, and can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant woman.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week said an outbreak unrelated to the True Leaf Farms recall and that involves four different strains of Listeria and Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes from Jensen Farms of Colorado had sickened 84 individuals in 19 states and was implicated in the deaths of 15 people, as of Sept. 29.

Contact Alan J. Liddle at alan.liddle@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @AJ_NRN

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