Listeria Fears Expand To Lettuce

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More listeria fears—this time in lettuce. The recall has expanded to Maryland.

Meghan McCorkell has details on this latest scare.

The latest recall involves shredded romaine lettuce. It comes on the heels of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in a decade.

Lettuce is the latest product pulled off the shelves in 19 states, including Maryland. A California farm has recalled 33,000 pounds of lettuce after a bag tested positive for listeria, the same deadly bacteria that’s killed at least 15 people.

“We’re testing product. We’re being audited all the time. We’re testing it at our plant,” said Steve Church, Church Brothers.

The recalled lettuce is from True Leaf Farms. It’s shredded romaine lettuce with a use by date of Sept. 29. So far, no one’s gotten sick but it hits close to home.

“It’s just a horrible situation all the way around,” said Donna Lloyd, daughter of listeria victim.

Clarence Wells, an 87-year-old from Catonsville, died from eating cantaloupe tainted with listeria.

“In this country today, that shouldn’t be part of it. People should be responsible for what they’re doing,” Lloyd said.

“Listeria can be very deadly. That’s why there’s very little tolerance or no tolerance for it in ready-to-eat foods,” said Dr. Michael Donnenberg, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

There’s not much you can do to protect yourself. Washing off food before you eat it can remove some of the bacteria but it’s not foolproof.

“It reduces the number of microbes that are on it. That’s highly recommended but whether that be 100 percent protective…I’m afraid it isn’t,” Donnenberg said.

Federal officials are investigating how listeria contaminated the lettuce and cantaloupes.

So far, 84 people have gotten sick from the tainted cantaloupe. Some lawmakers are now calling for a congressional hearing to prevent similar outbreaks.

There’s no link between the lettuce contamination and the cantaloupe outbreak.

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