From: Andy Sullivan, Reuters
Published October 9, 2006 12:00 AM

California Grower Recalls Possibly Tainted Lettuce

WASHINGTON — A California grower recalled its green-leaf lettuce Sunday because of possible E. coli contamination, only weeks after tainted spinach from the same region was pulled from grocery shelves across the nation.

The Nunes Co. Inc., of Salinas, California, said it was recalling its Foxy brand green-leaf lettuce from seven Western states because water used for irrigation might have been contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

The family-owned company said it was not aware of any illnesses from the lettuce.

"This is a precautionary measure based upon the recent events in the produce industry, our concern for our customers and a concern about the product," Nunes Co. Vice President Tom Nunes Jr. told Reuters.

The lettuce was distributed to grocery stores and possibly restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Roughly 8,500 cartons of the lettuce have been recalled already, while 200 to 300 cartons are still unaccounted for, Nunes said. Consumers who have purchased the lettuce should throw it away or return it for a refund, the company said.

The lettuce was recalled after E. coli was found in a reservoir used for irrigation. It came from one farm and was shipped out last week, Nunes said.

Nunes said no other vegetables grown by the company and no lettuce grown by other companies are part of the recall.

Contaminated spinach from the same region has killed at least three people and sickened 200 in 26 states since mid-August, leading to a massive recall.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the end of September said spinach was safe to eat again, but cautioned that tighter regulations may be needed to prevent further outbreaks among California growers.

An FDA official said the agency was aware of the Foxy lettuce recall and was looking into it.

"As a standard course of action, we would expect the firm to identify the source of the contamination and take steps to correct and prevent to ensure that it doesn't happen again," FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said in an e-mail message.

E. coli is a common and usually harmless bacteria found in the guts of animals, including people, but some strains can cause diarrhea and kidney failure.

Source: Reuters

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