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For Immediate Release: May 7, 2010
Contact: Jeff Beach
(609) 292-5531

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher today advised consumers that fresh romaine lettuce from the Garden State is not included in the recent recall of chopped, bagged romaine by Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, which was due to the product’s connection to an E. coli outbreak in three states.

“New Jersey-produced romaine had not begun to be on the market when the first illnesses were reported,” said Secretary Fisher. “It certainly is an unfortunate coincidence of ,timing that this recall is occurring just as our farmers’ fresh romaine is coming into the market, but there is no connection between the two.”

Food safety officials are continuing to trace back where the romaine included in Freshway Foods’ recall ( ) was grown. Early indications are that much of it was grown in the Southwestern United States and that the romaine was packaged in Ohio before New Jersey’s harvest began. The illnesses reported in connection with the recall have been in Michigan, Ohio and New York.

Some of the bagged, chopped romaine from Freshway Foods was shipped into 23 states including New Jersey, and the Department and Produce Safety Task Force are urging any wholesalers, food-service providers and retailers operating in-store salad bars or delis to double-check their supply of chopped romaine and remove and destroy any recalled product. According to Freshway Foods, consumers are urged not to eat "grab and go" salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores.

“This is a good example of why our Produce Safety Task Force was created in 2006, so that we could work with food-safety officials and members of the produce industry to quickly distribute accurate information about foodborne illness outbreaks,” Secretary Fisher said. “In that way, we can both inform the public about food-safety issues while also ensuring our growers are not unfairly hurt by a recall just because they offer a similar, but unaffected, product.”

For more information on the outbreak of foodborne illness to which this recall may be related, please see The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state public health officials in Michigan, New York, and Ohio continue to investigate the outbreak and will provide updates as more information is available.