E. coli outbreak linked to shredded lettuce sickens 30 in Canada

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | Monday, January 28, 2013

Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the source of an E. coli outbreak linked to shredded lettuce grown in California, which has sickened at least 30 people in Canada.

Guy Gravelle, manager of media relations at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, told Land Line on Monday, Jan. 28, that the agency “traced the lettuce to its origin in California and notified U.S. authorities of this finding.”

According to the agency, the shredded lettuce was distributed by FreshPoint Inc., primarily to some KFC and KFC-Taco Bell restaurants, as well as Burger King and Pizza Hut restaurants. The shredded lettuce was not sold to grocery stores.

“The CFIA can confirm that during the course of our investigation, there were a number of American suppliers to the Canadian distributor during the time the product was produced,” Gravelle said. “At this point, however, no source of contamination has been identified.”

The E. coli cases were first reported in late December 2012 and early January. FreshPoint voluntarily recalled any remaining affected product with the use-by dates of Jan. 8 or Jan. 10.

“The CFIA is verifying that appropriate food safety controls were followed at each step of production, processing and distribution,” according to the notice posted on the agency’s website. “Immediate action will be taken to ensure that any unsafe food is removed from the marketplace.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been pushing for tougher traceback procedures since truckers were left holding the bag with pallets of bags of spinach, potentially tainted with E. coli on their trucks after a voluntary recall was issued. That outbreak in 2006 sickened more than 200 people and killed three.

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