May 26th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
And the salmonella hits just keep on comin’…
Two recent recalls—romaine lettuce and alfalfa sprouts—were bad enough, but we have a new one to report: Salinas, Calif.-based Fresh Express just announced a salmonella-related recall of specific Fresh Express romaine-based, ready-to-eat salads.
Affected products have expiration dates of May 13 through May 16, as well as an “S” in their product codes. Please refer to the full product list at the end of this article.
At press time, the recall extended only to products with these use-by dates and product codes that were sold in the following states: Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The recall has been issued because a single package of Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine Salad, with a use-by date of May 15, tested positive for salmonella in a random sample test conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Because it’s still possible that products bearing these dates could be on store shelves, this recall extends to both retailers and consumers.
Consumers who have an affected product should immediately dispose of it and contact a Fresh Express consumer representative at (800) 242-5472 (Monday through Friday, 24 hours per day).
The affected products include:
Read More:Fresh Express Recalls Romaine-Based Salads
May 16th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and stage agencies have confirmed that the current multistate E. coli outbreak can be traced to bags of shredded romaine lettuce (not organic) distributed by Sydney, OH-based Freshway Foods.
As of Tuesday, there were 23 confirmed and 7 probable affected patients in Michigan, New York, Ohio and Tennessee—12 of whom have been hospitalized and 3 with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening condition.
With HUS, the body’s blood-clotting mechanisms are altered, causing blocked circulation and/or bleeding in the brain or kidneys.
Based on available data, illnesses presented between April 10 and 26. Infected patients range in age from 13 to 31, with a median age of 19; 66% are male.
The recall of potentially contaminated products continues, and investigators are attempting to determine the supply-chain point where contamination occurred. They’re taking samples from Freshway’s processing facility, as well as a farm in Yuma, AZ, that grew the lettuce.
Graphic courtesy of the CDC
Read More:Romaine Officially Linked to E. Coli Outbreak
May 8th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Sidney, OH-based Freshway Foods has voluntarily recalled certain nonorganic packages of shredded and chopped romaine lettuce, as well as prepared salad bowls, because of a possible link between contaminated products and an outbreak of foodborne disease.
The outbreak, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently investigating, involves E. coli O145 illnesses among Michigan, Ohio and New York consumers.
According to Freshway, the romaine was sold to wholesalers, food-service outlets, and some in-store salad bars and delis in Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The recalled packages (click here for a complete list) have a “best if used by” date of May 12 or earlier. Restaurants, distributors, retailers and consumers should throw out or refrain from using products with these dates—many of which were sold in grab-and-go salads at Kroger, Giant Eagle and Ingles Markets, as well as Marsh stores.
Packages with “use by” dates after May 12 are not involved in the recall, nor is romaine from other producers.
To date, 19 confirmed cases of E. coli O145 illness have been reported in Michigan, Ohio and New York, with 12 hospitalizations.
Common symptoms of E. coli infection include mild or major diarrhea. Acute symptoms include severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which may be bloody. Patients may progress to serious complications, such as kidney damage.
The FDA urges consumers who have eaten listed romaine products and who now have symptoms to call their physicians immediately.
If you have additional questions, please call Freshway Foods’ information desk at (888) 361-7106 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday), or visit the company’s website for updates.
Read More:Romaine Lettuce Recalled After E. Coli Outbreak
April 11th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
To maximize your organic garden’s yield, plant vegetables and herbs that are easy to grow and versatile in a variety of dishes.
Here are the six top springtime picks from the experts at Bonnie Plants, a green-garden wholesaler in Union Springs, AL:
- Tomatoes. The most popular fruit in U.S. home gardens, tomatoes are hard to beat in terms of taste, health benefits and versatility.
- Yellow squash and zucchini. While their growing season is shorter than the tomato’s, squash are very productive. You’ll pick them every day once the season starts.
- Lettuce. As long as weather is mild, leaf lettuce will continue to produce. If you regularly enjoy salads, growing your own lettuce can offer substantial savings.
- Cucumbers. Grown in a cage or on a trellis, a single cucumber plant can produce five to 10 cukes. You can place two or three plants in a cage just 18 inches in diameter and 4 feet high. Your yield: 15 to 30 cucumbers from a slice of ground no bigger than an end table.
- Specialty peppers. Price jalapeños and other specialty peppers in the supermarket, and you’ll realize the benefit of growing your own. These peppers produce especially high yields in areas with a long, hot summer.
- Herbs. Also pricey in supermarkets, fresh herbs are easy and economical to grow. Consider planting sage, rosemary, mint, thyme and chives (one plant each), plus at least three basil plants. Try different basil varieties: sweet, cinnamon, Thai and/or boxwood.
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants/ARA
Read More:6 High-Yield Organic Vegetables & Herbs
March 21st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Nothing makes a green salad more unappetizing than a pool of water at the bottom of the plate.
Solve the problem—and save time—with a salad spinner, which will remove excess water from your organic greens.
Spinners offer an added health benefit: “You’re more likely to eat salads every day with one of these around because it makes washing greens—herbs, too—a lot easier,” according to Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart magazine.
ShopSmart editors like the dishwasher-safe Oxo Good Grips Little Salad and Herb Spinner, which features a pump mechanism for one-handed operation, brake button, nonslip ring to steady the bowl on countertops and built-in 3-quart bowl for storage.
Clean greens can be stored in a covered, paper towel-lined spinner bowl for up to 5 days, according to the editors at Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine.
Read More:Top Secret to Cleaning and Storing Lettuce
March 15th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
In addition to tomatoes, peas and peppers, we’d like to highlight four vegetables that are easy to grow in an organic garden.
The base for most salads, myriad lettuce varieties (right) make versatile sandwich toppings and wrap fillings.
Seeds should be planted between 8 and 16 inches apart. Water in the morning to prevent disease from developing.
Delicious in: Grilled Sweet Gem with Gorgonzola
This green or yellow Italian squash is rich in potassium, folate and manganese, making it a healthful addition to any meal.
Zucchini take about a month to mature. They grow on vines and produce large flowers before bearing fruit.
Delicious in: Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Salad
A beet’s bright purple color tells you it’s chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals.
Freshly roasted beets are a wonderfully rustic side dish or salad ingredient.
Delicious in: Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Beets and Goat Cheese
A subterranean-growing veggie, carrots require moist soil as they germinate.
As plants mature, they require less water.
Delicious in: Turkish Leeks and Carrots
Read More:4 Easy-to-Grow Spring Veggies
March 4th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Move over, iceberg lettuce and romaine!
Spruce up your salad plate with miner’s lettuce, also referred to as Indian lettuce or winter purslane.
This mild green, known for its heart-shaped leaves, is available at farmers’ markets and natural/organic food stores from late winter to early spring.
The lettuce was named after old-time California gold miners, who ate it to boost vitamin C consumption and prevent scurvy. Usually featured in raw salads, Miner’s lettuce may also be substituted for spinach in cooked dishes.
If you’d like to grow your own crop, organic seeds for this hardy green may be purchased online from Cottage Grove, OR-based Territorial Seed Company ($3.05 to $14.95).
Get the Recipe: Wild Miner’s Lettuce Salad, with blue cheese, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts, vinaigrette and citrus zest
Like the Look? Wear an organic Miner’s Lettuce T-Shirt.
Photo courtesy of MarxFoods.com/Flickr
Read More:Miner’s Lettuce: Great Source of Vitamin C
October 18th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
If you’ve been thinking about starting an organic vegetable garden, choosing your plants initially may seem overwhelming.
The experts at Bonnie Plants, a green-gardening plant wholesaler in Union Springs, AL, recommend these six fast-growing, cold-hardy crops for fall gardeners:
- A nutritious leafy green
- A vigorous producer that endures winter easily, even in very cold climates
- Cut the outer leaves so the center can continue growing; space transplants about 12 inches apart
- Similar to kale, with a stronger, sweet-cabbage flavor
- Leaves taste best when young
- Space transplants 36 inches apart
- Richer in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients than other popular lettuces
- Space transplants 18 inches apart
Early Dividend Broccoli
- Popular, productive and easy to grow
- High in fiber and calcium
- Set transplants 18 inches apart
- Nutritious, with spicy leaves that taste sweeter when nipped by frost
- Space plants 12 inches apart
- Fast-growing, peppery-tasting leafy green that’s great in salads
- Promotes bone health
- Especially high in vitamins A, C and K
Photo courtesy of ARA
Read More:6 Great Veggies for Gardening Newbies
December 14th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
The FDA has narrowed its investigation of the E. coli outbreak to the shredded lettuce served in meals at Taco Bell restaurants in northeastern states.
At press time, 71 cases of infection have been reported in five states: Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina (but the lone patient there ate at a Pennsylvania Taco Bell). The number of new cases has declined substantially, the CDC notes.
FDA investigators are further expediting their review of the fast-food chain’s records so they can trace the lettuce’s distribution channels and identify the farm(s) where the lettuce was grown, as well as all firms and facilities that handled the product between harvest and delivery.
So, is organic lettuce safe to eat?
The FDA has no indication that the lettuce served at any other restaurant or venue is connected to this outbreak. While another outbreak has been reported at Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota, the FDA is monitoring these cases, but the agency does not believe the two outbreaks are related. In fact, the CDC has officially stated “this outbreak was clearly linked to Taco Bell restaurants in the northeastern United States” and that shredded lettuce consumed at the locations in question is “the most likely source of the outbreak.”
Contamination “likely occurred before reaching the restaurants,” the CDC reports. “Health officials and the restaurant chain are working collaboratively to learn more about the shredded lettuce to determine how it may have become contaminated.”
While green onions were initially thought to be the culprit, confirmatory FDA tests did not indicate the presence of E. coli.
Map courtesy of the CDC
Read More:Lettuce the Likely Source in E. Coli Outbreak
October 10th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
I was originally going to post Part 2 of an interview with Dr. Sanford Miller, a senior fellow at the University of Maryland Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy. A new lettuce recall will delay this post by a day. (Click here to read Part 1.)
The Nunes Co. of Salinas, California, has initiated a voluntary recall of green-leaf lettuce designated by the code 6SL0024, which was sold Oct. 3–6 under the Foxy brand. This lettuce may be contaminated with E. coli, the company states, although no illnesses have been reported.
The lettuce was distributed in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. It was sold to retail stores and distributors who may have sold it to restaurants.
The recall was initiated when company reps discovered that water used to irrigate the lettuce may have been contaminated with E. coli. Subsequent investigation indicated the problems were caused by temporary use of a secondary water source, initially testing positive for E. coli.
Consumers who have bought the lettuce are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Those with questions may contact the company at (800) 695-5012.
“This is a precautionary measure based upon the recent events in the produce industry and our concern for our customers,” company president Tom Nunes Jr. told the Los Angeles Times. “No other products except green-leaf lettuce are a part of this recall.”
Nunes supplies organic bagged vegetables under the Foxy brand—broccoli florets, broccoli slaw, broccoli/cauliflower vegetable medley, among others—to supermarkets, but they are not part of this recall.
The FDA issued the following statement yesterday: “Based on current information about the scope of this E. coli contamination, FDA views the firm’s prompt action as commendable, because it is better to be cautious than to potentially put consumers at risk of contracting a serious foodborne illness. As FDA becomes aware of additional information about the contamination of the water supply that triggered the current voluntary recall, including the results of additional ongoing tests, the agency will make this information available to the public immediately.
“Fresh leafy greens grown and consumed in the United States are safe,” the FDA adds. “Every year there are many thousands of pounds of fresh leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach grown in the United States and consumed by the public with no consequent illness. However, outbreaks do occur, such as the recent E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to raw spinach, and there is a need to do everything possible to minimize the likelihood of further outbreaks and prevent serious illness. For this reason, FDA has taken a number of actions in recent years, in partnership with its sister agencies, to improve the safety of fresh leafy greens and is working on additional steps. From farm to table, everyone has a responsibility to ensure food safety, including growers, processors, distributors, retailers and consumers, and government.”
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Read More:New Lettuce Recall