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•   Lettuce E.Coli Outbreak Spreads to Fourth State
FDA's Ability to Safeguard Food Supply Faulted in Pair of reports
E.Coli Sickens 19 in OH, NY, MI

How has FDA’s handling of foodborne illnesses associated with leafy green products changed since 2006?


May 18-20, 2010
Fresh-Cut HACCP Workshop, University of Georgia, Athens


Trade Show Talk
I’ve been compiling my notes from United Fresh 2010, which wrapped up in Las Vegas April 24, and the one thing that keeps repeating is “optimism.”

This year’s show, while incredibly busy with all of the learning centers and demonstration centers, had a more upbeat and enthusiastic atmosphere than last year’s event, and maybe more so than the inaugural Las Vegas show two years ago.

Exhibitors told me that traffic was good and, even if there weren’t sales from the show floor, there were more requests for information from attendees. The show was one of the few I’ve been to that I didn’t see exhibits torn down and packed up hours before the doors closed on the last day. Even as the crowd thinned out, there was still business going on between customers and suppliers.

The 2011 United Fresh Show will be in New Orleans, and I look forward to visiting the city for the first time. And in 2012, United Fresh will join with the Food Marketing Institute and the American Meat Institute for side-by-side shows in Dallas to bring increased value and cross-over attendance from the three association memberships.

Industry Spotlight
John Keeling, National Potato Council

Market Report: E.Coli Update
An E. coli outbreak in Michigan, Ohio and New York has resulted in a widespread recall from two processors and an investigation on a Yuma, Ariz., farm.

The outbreak, with 23 confirmed cases and 7 probable in four states, was traced to romaine lettuce distributed to foodservice customers by Sidney, Ohio-based Freshway Foods. The products were marketed under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco labels. A May 5 lab result from New York isolated the strain as E. coli O145, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is a more difficult strain to detect compared to the O157 strain. Based on that find, Freshway Foods issued a voluntary recall on May 6 for all romaine lettuce with a use-by date of May 12 or ealier sold to wholesale and foodservice customers in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

No retail packaging was affected by the recall, but consumers who bought salads containing romaine lettuce from deli salad bars are encouraged to throw them out. Freshway Foods sells romaine products to Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Market and Marsh Stores for use in the deli department.

The traceback investigation into where the contamination may have occurred has led investigators to a farm in Yuma, Ariz., according to an FDA statement on May 10. However, FDA did say that Vaughan Foods, Moore, Okla., received product from the same grower. As a precaution, the company recalled its romaine products with sell by dates of May 9 and May 10, sold to restaurant and foodservice customers. No illnesses have been reported from Vaughan Foods products.

The agency did not identify the name of the farm. Based on the processing dates of the lettuce, the contaminated product would have been harvested in mid- to late-April, which is late in the season for Yuma lettuce production. In 2007, leafy greens growers in the state formed the Arizona Leafy Green Products Shipper Marketing Agreement, modeled on the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, to collaboratively work together to reduce contamination. Currently, the Arizona agreement represents about 96 percent of the state’s leafy green production.

Product Highlight: Key Technology