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    E. Coli Strikes Again

    This time, the bacteria targets Foxy Lettuce and initiates a recall, later to be proven safe.

    SALINAS, Calif. -- On the heels of a highly publicized spinach E. coli outbreak that has been blamed for the deaths of two seniors and one toddler, the Nunes Co. here initiated a voluntary recall of green leaf lettuce shipped October 3, 2006 through October 6, 2006 under its popular Foxy brand, only to be later tested and proven safe from the bacteria.

    Nunes tested multiple samples from more than 8,500 cartons of recalled green leaf lettuce and all tested negative for pathogenic E. coli O157:H7, reported Forbes yesterday. That specific strain is the same responsible for the E. coli outbreak linked to spinach that killed three people and sickened 199 others.

    "We are relieved that all results were negative, and we are confident our product is safe," company president Tom Nunes said in a statement.

    Nunes executives ordered the recall Sunday after it was discovered that water used to irrigate the product might have been contaminated with E. coli. The products were distributed in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Nunes said the lettuce does not appear to have caused any illnesses.

    Subsequent investigation indicated that the problems were caused by temporary use of a secondary water source, initially testing positive for E. coli. Thus far, the company said, its investigators have not found E. coli bacteria in the lettuce itself. The Food and Drug Administration is testing company irrigation water. The results should be available late today or Thursday

    The recall does not involve iceberg (head) lettuce or Romaine lettuce, according to a statement appearing on Nunes' Web site.

    The shipper said that more than 97 percent of the affected cartons have been located, and have either been destroyed or have been set aside for destruction.

    Moreover, 250 cartons have not been located and could have reached consumers out of 8,533 cut from the suspect farm, Nunes said, adding that it expects to further reduce that count as it continues to identify the location of the cartons.

    Nunes said the recall was "a precautionary measure based upon our concern for our customers, and a concern about the product."

    No other shippers, or brands are part of this recall, and no other products of The Nunes Company, or Foxy brand products, except "green leaf lettuce," are part of this recall.

    "We're just reacting to a water test only," company president Tom Nunes Jr. was quoted as saying in an article in The New York Times. "We know there's generic E. coli on it, but we're not sure what that means," he said, adding that the company issued the recall as a means of "being extra careful" as a precautionary measure.

    The items being recalled by The Nunes Company, Inc. are Green Leaf 24 Count, waxed carton; and Green Leaf 18 Count, cellophane sleeve, returnable carton.

    -- Source: Progressive Grocer

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