Report: Fall E. coli outbreak from lettuce

Dec. 8, 2011 at 8:45 PM
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ST. LOUIS, Miss., Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The E. coli outbreak that sickened 60 people in the United States this fall likely originated in romaine lettuce harvested from a single farm, a report found.

Investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed 22 people who got sick and determined romaine lettuce from salad bars at Schnucks grocery stores was the most common denominator, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday.

The report, released Wednesday, did not name Schnucks or the farm where the lettuce was grown, but officials at the grocery store confirmed the store was responsible.

Schnucks "fully cooperated with the investigation and voluntarily removed suspected food items from the salad bar (Oct. 26) out of an abundance of caution," the report said.

Sixty people in Missouri, Illinois, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota and Nebraska were reported to have contracted E. coli between Oct. 10 and Nov. 4.

A Seattle lawyer says he plans to file a lawsuit against the grocery chain on behalf of a St. Louis woman who developed kidney disease after contracting E. coli.

"Most of the time you are never able to trace it back to a farm because by the time people are eating the lettuce, (it) has already been pulled out of the field," attorney Bill Marler said. "It's still the responsibility of the chain of distribution for the food that they served the people. Those entities are still legally responsible for the injuries to their customers."

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