May 112010

As we anticipated, the E. coli contaminated romaine lettuce recall has broadened.  Some people are worried that the E. coli outbreak might be a terrorist act.

Vaughan Foods of Moore, Oklahoma, has issued a recall of romaine lettuce with “use by” dates of May 9 through May 10.  The recall is for lettuce sold to restaraunts and the food service industry.

However, as I mentioned in Saturday’s post here, I became ill from eating romaine lettuce purchased in Arkansas from either Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club, so the recall is still not broad enough.

Note the “use by” dates on the lettuce under recall.  It is possible if not likely that the FDA is working with Wal-Mart to contain the recall until the tainted lettuce expires in order to protect the retail giant from taking costly action.  Also notice that today’s CNN report makes no mention of the Sysco recall linked to in my last post.

The FDA still claims that only 19 people limited to Ohio, Michigan and New York became ill because of the E. Coli 0145 outbreak.  E. coli 0145 is not normally tracked by the FDA and the current, potentially life threatening outbreak is considered novel.

A sickened Ohio State University freshman is suing Freshway Foods and his lawyer disputes the FDA’s information.

Freshman Richard Cardinale filed a lawsuit after his stool sample tested positive for E. coli O145, according to court documents. He suffered from gastrointestinal problems including bloody diarrhea and dehydration and was hospitalized on April 14 for treatment.

Food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who is representing Cardinale, said the E. coli O145 outbreak may have sickened as many as 59 people.

“We have a new form of deadly E. coli to contend with. It is past time for the government and industry to track this bug as it does E. coli O157:H7,” said Marler, referring to the best known form of toxic E. coli.

The contaminated lettuce is believed to have originated from a Yuma, Arizona, farm.

Authorities are investigating a farm near Yuma, Arizona, where the tainted lettuce was harvested, the Food and Drug Administration said. Vaughan Foods received lettuce from that farm, the administration said.

Yuma, Arizona, is located on the Mexican border and the E. coli outbreak has intensified the illegal immigration debate.  This controversy is reflected in the comment sections of many articles reporting the E. coli outbreak. Some people are worried that the food contamination is a direct result of illegal immigration itself as described in this CNN comment.

Yuma Arizona is where more illegal Mexicans cross into the country than any other border location. The Colorado River separates Mexico from the U.S. there and daily crossings of hundreds of illegals takes place every day. It is not unusal so see small groups of illegals going potty among the many farms there as they make their way to the U.S. We see groups of alleged illegals carrying AK-47s walking along the railroad tracks. The new food terrorist.

Another angry commenter accuses migrant field workers.

by wyodutch May 7, 2010 5:49 PM EDT
E-coli on lettuce comes from one thing only… fecal material.
You think the lettuce-picker from Mexico (who never saw an indoor toilet until he jumped the border)… is gonna run to the outhose when nature calls? Of course not…they squat in the lettuce patch and the Gringo dines on the tainted lettuce.
There you are… good, hardworking people from Mexico… just doing “jobs” that Americans won’t do.

According to Salinas, California, television station KCBA, large numbers of illegal immigrants migrate to Yuma, Arizona, to work as farmhands on winter crops.

A majority of ag workers are illegal immigrants. Most of them migrate to Yuma, Arizona for winter crops.

Yuma is the source for much of the nation’s winter lettuce crop.

The recall only applies to romaine lettuce with “best if used by” date before or on May 12, when Freshway Foods stopped buying its romaine from Yuma, Beer said.

Officials in Arizona also confirmed the investigation. Laura Oxley, a spokeswoman for Arizona’s agriculture and health departments, said federal officials contacted them and told them they suspected the source of the E. coli outbreak was lettuce grown in the state. She said there were no additional shipments to stop because the winter lettuce season has mostly ended for the year.

The Yuma area is the source of much of the nation’s winter lettuce crop, but farmers switch to other crops at the end of winter.

E. coli bacteria occurs in human excrement, so the contaminated lettuce came in contact with fecal matter and the contamination almost certainly occurred at farm level.

“Experience tells us that the point of contamination is likely at the farm level, which can then be spread during the entire processing chain,” Allen said.

The E. coli outbreak occurs in the middle of heated debates regarding a recently passed Arizona law which aims to take action against illegal immigration within that state. Enforcement of that law will begin this summer.

Some people are worried that the E. coli outbreak might be an act of terrorism in direct retaliation against the Arizona legislation.

by myassss May 9, 2010 11:54 PM EDT
Couldn’t possibly be retaliation for the recent law passed in Az?
I agree with desertdwellr, FBI investigate and bring about terrorist charges to those involved!