Target joins Walmart in tainted-lettuce recall as Thanksgiving nears

"Romaine lettuce leaves" by ruthanddave, CC BY 2.0

NATIONWIDE (WOWO) – Stores across the U.S. have recalled salad products that originated in California after federal agencies warned they may be tainted with E. coli bacteria.

Target, Walmart, Wegmans, Aldi, Sam’s Club and others acted on warnings from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when at least 40 cases of E. Coli infection were reported nationwide from products likely harvested in the Salinas area.

“If romaine lettuce does not have labeling information for its growing area or the source cannot be confirmed, consumers should not eat or use the romaine,” FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas said in a statement on Friday. “Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell romaine lettuce if they cannot confirm it is from outside Salinas.”

Yiannas also said consumers or retailers can keep using romaine harvested outside Salinas or grown indoors.

“Any outbreak is a tragedy, and everyone across the supply chain must do more to protect consumers” ahead of Thanksgiving, he said.

At least 16 states have reported cases of the strain, and at least 28 people have been hospitalized, mostly in late October, with the earliest case reported on Sept. 24, according to the CDC statement. The agency’s warning came a day after the Agriculture Department announced that prepared-food manufacturer Missa Bay, LLC  in Swedesboro, New Jersey recalled more than 75,000 pounds of salad products due to reports of E. Coli contamination.

All types of romaine lettuce grown in Salinas — from whole heads to hearts of romaine, packages of precut lettuce and leaves included in salad mixes — should be avoided, the agency said.

“We’re concerned this romaine could be in other products,” said Laura Gieraltowski, lead investigator of the outbreak at the CDC.

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