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Nearly 2,500 cartons of chopped and shredded romaine lettuce has been recalled by True Leaf Farms, of Salinas, California because of concerns that the produce could be contaminated by listeria monocytogenes (the same bacteria recently found in tainted cantaloupes), reported the Food and Drug Administration.
The manufacturer originally recalled 90 cartons after a random sample pulled from a lot shipped between September 12 and 13 detected the presence of the bacteria. True Leaf later issued a statement saying that the FDA had asked them to expand the recall , which now includes 2,498 cartons that were shipped to wholesale food distributors in 19 states and Canada.
The recalled lettuce carries a use by date of "9/29/11" and the bag and box code B256-46438-8. The FDA urges anyone who has the lettuce to destroy it or contact the company to come pick it up.
Officials already had their hands full dealing with a deadly listeria outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupes - so far the contaminated fruit has been responsible for up to 16 deaths, making it the most lethal outbreak in the past decade.
Ken August, spokesman for the California Department of Public Health, told the AP that officials have not yet determined how the lettuce became contaminated.
"Anytime there is a contaminated food product, we are concerned and take steps so that it's removed from shelves as quickly as possible and to notify consumers," he said.
He went on to explain that the state is working with the company to verify the distribution of the produce. August said most of the lettuce was sold to California institutions such as restaurants and cafeterias, and only a small amount were shipped to other states.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, listeria can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems. The bacteria sickens about 1,600 people and kills about 260 people each year in the United States. It is especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.