Nunes Co. issues voluntary recall of Foxy brand lettuce

| 10/9/2006

Less than one week after the Food and Drug Administration lifted its warning on fresh spinach in California’s Salinas Valley, another leafy vegetable – lettuce – is now the target of a voluntary recall in the region.

The Nunes Co. of Salinas, CA, has voluntarily recalled its green leaf lettuce sold under the Foxy brand, which was shipped from one farm in Salinas Valley from Oct. 3 through Oct. 6.

This recall was initiated after the company learned that irrigation water may have been contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

“This recall is a precautionary measure based upon our concern for our customers and a concern about the product,” according to a written statement issued by the company early Monday, Oct. 9.

Later Monday, Tom Nunes Jr., company president, told Land Line Magazine that more than 97 percent of the 8,533 affected cartons of lettuce had been located and have either been destroyed or have been set aside for destruction. Approximately 250 cartons of lettuce remain unaccounted at midday Monday.

When asked where produce haulers were supposed to take the recalled lettuce, Nunes said the company is dealing with each situation on a “one-by-one basis,” and that it is OK to dispose of the potentially E. coli-contaminated lettuce in landfills.

“We are talking about a few cartons here and there – E. coli is found everywhere, so it’s OK in this instance,” he said. “We don’t even know if they contain the E. coli bacteria – we are still conducting testing.”

No illnesses have been reported, according to the company’s written statement, which also said that subsequent investigation has indicated that the problems may have been caused by the use of a “secondary water source, initially testing positive for E. coli.”

The seven states the Foxy brand lettuce was sold in include: Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The recalled lettuce, stamped with lot code 6SL0024, was packaged as “Green Leaf 24 Count, waxed carton,” and “Green Leaf 18 Count, cellophane sleeve, returnable carton.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer