Lettuce Recalled Over E. coli Concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A popular brand of lettuce grown in
California's Salinas Valley, the region at the center of a
nationwide spinach scare, has been recalled over concerns about E.
coli contamination.
The lettuce does not appear to have caused any illnesses,
according to the president of Salinas-based Nunes Co. Inc.
Executives ordered the recall Sunday after learning that
irrigation water may have been contaminated with E. coli, Tom Nunes
Jr. said.
So far, company investigators have not found E. coli bacteria in
the lettuce itself, Nunes said.
"We're just reacting to a water test only. We know there's
generic E. coli on it, but we're not sure what that means," he
said. "We're being extra careful. This is precautionary."
The recall comes amid other federal warnings that some brands of
spinach, bottled carrot juice and recent shipments of beef could
cause grave health risks - including paralysis, respiratory failure
and death.
It covers green leaf lettuce under the Foxy brand that was
purchased in grocery stores Oct. 3-6 in Arizona, California,
Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. It was also sold to
distributors in those states who may have sold it to restaurants or
The recalled lettuce was packaged as "Green Leaf 24 Count,
waxed carton," and "Green Leaf 18 Count, cellophane sleeve,
returnable carton." Packaging is stamped with lot code 6SL0024.
FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said the agency was aware of the
voluntary recall but had no details.
"As a standard course of action, we would expect the firm to
identify the source of the contamination and take steps to ...
ensure that it doesn't happen again," Zawisza said in an e-mail.
It's unlikely that the bacteria in the lettuce fields share the
source of the E. coli found in spinach that has sickened nearly 200
people and has been linked to three deaths nationwide, Nunes said.
Pathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria, or E. coli, can
proliferate in uncooked produce, raw milk, unpasteurized juice,
contaminated water and meat. When consumed, it may cause diarrhea
and bloody stools.
Although most healthy adults recover within a week without
long-term side effects, some people may develop a form of kidney
failure. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to
The recall at Nunes Co., a family-owned business with more than
20,000 acres of cropland in Arizona and California, comes days
after federal agents searched two Salinas Valley produce companies
connected to the spinach scare.
Epidemiologists warned consumers last week to stay away from
some bottled carrot juice after a Florida woman was paralyzed and
three people in Georgia experienced respiratory failure, apparently
due to botulism poisoning.
On Friday, an Iowa company announced that it was recalling 5,200
pounds of ground beef suspected of having E. coli. The government
said no illnesses have been reported from consumption of the beef.
The outbreaks have sparked demands to create a new federal
agency in charge of food safety. Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary
Rodham Clinton, both New York Democrats, are sponsoring legislation
authored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., to create the unified Food
Safety Agency.
"There's a high level of urgency in our industry, and we're
being very proactive," Nunes said. "It's obviously based upon
recent events in the produce industry and concern for customers. We
just don't want anything to happen."