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Listeria Outbreak: Chopped Romaine Lettuce Recalled

Listeria is at it again. This time in Alaska where officials said bags of chopped romaine lettuce were being recalled over concerns of possible listeria contamination. Meanwhile, a California farm said Thursday it was voluntarily recalling bags of chopped romaine lettuce due to possible contamination.

To date, no illnesses have been reported but listeria, a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning, can lead to listeriosis. Eating food contaminated by listeriosis can be fatal and cause serious infection.

According to an announcement made by True Leaf Farms, in Calif., they recalled 90 cartons of chopped romaine lettuce shipped to an Oregon food service distributor and it may have gone to Idaho and Washington.

Steve Church, CEO of Church Brothers, which sells and markets the farm’s produce, said the lettuce currently picked at the farm is safe to eat. The company is working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine if there are any problems at the farm he stated.

The FDA noticed True Leaf performed a random check that showed one sample tested positive for listeria. Church Brothers distributed two bags of the suspicious lettuce, with a use-by date of September 29, to Alaska.

Listeria rarely shows up in produce. However, an outbreak linked to cantaloupe from a Colorado farm has caused at least 72 illnesses, including up to 16 deaths, in 18 states.

Symptoms to look out for are fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are at a higher risk for listeriosis – as infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

Others at risk are those with weakened immune systems and adults over 60.

Health officials in California are looking into the contamination, said Ken August, spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health. However, they have not determined how the lettuce became contaminated.

“Anytime there is a contaminated food product, we are concerned and take steps so that it’s removed from shelves as quickly as possible and to notify consumers,” he said.

FDA officials are improving their ability to detect the germ that causes food poisoning as they have come across a higher number of contaminated samples in recent weeks.

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