Aunt Mid’s to resume processing after oubreak
By David Mitchell
Source of Article: http://thepacker.com/icms/_dtaa2/content/wrapper.asp?alink=2008-121857-235.asp&stype=topnews&fb=
(Oct. 6, UPDATED COVERAGE, 12:20 p.m.)
Aunt Mid’s Produce Co. plans to resume processing
and shipping iceberg lettuce after product and environmental samples tested
by the Michigan Department of Agriculture were negative for E. coli.
Dominic Riggio, president of the Detroit-based
company, said that nearly 100 samples were tested by the company, a
third-party lab and the state. All were negative, he said Oct. 6.
“Our plans are to start processing iceberg lettuce again very soon,” he said.
“It depends on how soon I can get trucks loaded and how soon I can get trucks
Riggio said Aunt Mid’s
has disposed of all its iceberg lettuce since the Michigan Department of
Community Health linked its product to an outbreak of E. coli in that state
“There’s nothing left to test here,” he said. “We feel like we should be able
to get a retraction from the state health department or an endorsement from
the state that says our product is safe to eat.”
Jennifer Holton, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Agriculture, said
Oct. 6 that while all of the state’s product tests were negative for E. coli,
the samples were taken in late September, after the last reported illness.
“We’re still looking at lettuce as the primary source of illness, and Aunt Mid’s is still our common thread,” she said.
Spokesman James McCurtis said the Michigan
Department of Community Health linked the outbreak to Aunt Mid’s after clusters of illnesses emerged, including nine
University students and three University of Michigan students who ate at campus
facilities. Five inmates at Lenawee County Jail also became sick.
As of Oct. 2, there were 35 reported illnesses and at least 18
hospitalizations in Michigan and six
illnesses and five hospitalizations in Illinois.
An Ohio resident also became ill while
traveling in Illinois.
The Canadian Health Inspection Agency said Oct. 4 that two illnesses in Ontario appear to be
related to the outbreak.
Public health officials in New York and Oregon have denied
published reports that cases related to the outbreak have occurred in those
Riggio has declined to say where the company
sources its iceberg lettuce. However, Jerry Wojtala,
deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s food and dairy
division, said Aunt Mid’s was sourcing from
multiple growers in multiple states, including California, when the outbreak started.