True Leaf Farms is recalling 90 cartons of chopped romaine lettuce. The California-based company fears the lettuce may be contaminated with listeria, though there have been no related illnesses reported.
Listeria has been in the news lately because of an unrelated outbreak linked to cantaloupes grown in Colorado, an outbreak which has infected 72 people across 18 states and been responsible for 13 deaths.
Listeria is a frequent cause of food recalls in the United states–this is the fourth listeria-related food recall since the voluntary cantaloupe recall linked to the outbreak on Sept. 14, even though three of the four were unrelated to the earlier outbreak.
True Leaf Farms is a processing arm of Church Brothers LLC, which is based in Salinas, California. They are voluntarily recalling romaine lettuce that was shipped in two pound bags between Sept. 12 and 13 to an Oregon food service distributor. From there, it is believed that the lettuce was sent to at least two other states, Washington and Idaho, according to a release the company posted on the FDA website. The Alaska Department of Environmental Convervation reports that the lettuce was also found in in that state. The company’s release said that the romaine lettuce named in the recall has a Sept. 29 use-by date.
Food and Drug Administration spokesman Douglas Karas said in an email, “Any time we find listeria in food we would consider that food adulterated and ask for a recall…The finding of listeria in romaine lettuce was a result of an FDA research program to understand the prevalence of listeria in fresh produce, particularly lettuce and leafy greens.”
Because listeria can grow at low temperatures, listeria outbreaks are often associated with deli meats, unpasteurized cheeses and smoked refrigerated seafood products. The illness caused by listeria is rarely serious.
Federal health officials claim the reason that they are seeing more contaminated produce is that they’ve gotten better at detecting the germs that cause food poisoning.
Church Brothers CEO Steve Church said that lettuce currently picked at the farm is safe to eat andvthat the company is working with the FDA to make sure that there are no problems at the farm. He said they are also taking more time to sanitizetheir produce.