Authorities claim that
lettuce suspected in recent E. coli outbreak that sickened 36 people in Michigan came from California.
Last month, the Michigan
Department of Health said the number of E. coli bacteria cases linked to
iceberg lettuce topped 26. These individuals got the same strain of the
bacteria. Of that number, nine were students at Michigan State
University and five
others were inmates at the Lenawee County Jail.
Escherichia coli is a dangerous strain responsible for many human
illnesses. It can lead to ailments such as bloody diarrhea, liver and
kidney damage and sometimes can even cause death.
Health officials still
don’t know in which part of the State of California the lettuce originated.
Nonetheless, they say a number of the cases might be linked to
industrial-sized packages of iceberg lettuce that has been sold to eateries
and institutions by Detroit-based Aunt Mid's
Produce Co. The company has consequently stopped the plant distribution,
although tests haven’t revealed any contamination.
According to Bob
Perkins, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau, the month
of September is the most prolific period for Salinas Valley
lettuce growers. "That's when our growers are very busy," he
said. "If it's California bagged lettuce, there's a
real probability that it will be tied to our area, or to somebody that we
Regardless of the place
the culprit turns out to have come from, consumer trust will remain shaken.
This is a problem that “has affected our industry, if nothing else, in
costs and practices, and we're going to have to be eternally
vigilant," said Dennis Donohue, president of the Grower-Shipper
Association of the Central