Limited amounts of organic romaine hearts are being voluntarily recalled just days before Thanksgiving after the company announced the products were potentially contaminated with E. coli.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the recall is precautionary and was issued after a routine test of one package of the romaine hearts yielded a positive result for E. coli. No illnesses have been reported, and the FDA said in a press release that it is not associated with any other ongoing outbreaks.
The recall is very narrow in scope. The only products being recalled are the Dole Organic Romaine Hearts three packs with harvested-on dates of Oct. 23 and Oct. 26 and 12-ounce bags of Wild Harvest Organic Romaine Hearts with the same harvested-on dates. No other Dole products are included in the recall, and the recall does not apply to any bagged or clamshell salad romaine product, according to the FDA press release.
The impacted products were sold nearly four weeks ago and "should no longer be in commerce," but consumers are advised to check any products they have in their homes. Consumers can find the harvested-on sticker on the upper right corner of each bag.
Retailers and consumers with questions may call the Dole Consumer Center at 1-800-356-3111, which is open 24 hours a day, according to the press release.
E. coli, a form of food poisoning, can cause diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Most people recover from the illness within a week, but for some the illness can last longer and be more severe. Elderly adults and young children are more susceptible to severe illness and can develop a form of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Multiple forms of romaine lettuce have been the subject of recalls over the past few years. A report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, published in Sept. 2020, found that leafy greens have been linked to 40 outbreaks of a serious strain of E. coli from 2009 to 2018. Of those 40 cases, 54% were linked to romaine lettuce. The report suggested that speedy cross-contamination, paired with eating lettuce raw instead of cooking it, can lead to more cases of E. coli associated with the vegetable.