When a routine food safety field test showed potential salmonella contamination of romaine lettuce, Pacific International Marketing was able to recover 98% of the implicated lot at the distribution center level, resulting in a voluntary recall of 19 bulk cases.

“Field tests are part of our growers’ food safety plans and are required by some of our customers,” said Steve Tripp, general counsel for Pacific International marketing, Salinas, Calif.

Tripp said the preliminary positive was confirmed and the company worked with officials from the Food and Drug Administration “for a couple of days” on the recall notice, which was dated July 6. The distribution centers and retailers were notified before the notice was approved by FDA.

“We inspected the area where the positive test result came from and didn’t find anything unusual that would indicate a cause of the contamination,” Tripp said July 11.

Tripp said no illnesses had been reported as being linked to the 19 cases of bulk romaine, which went to Vons and Pavilions grocery stores in California and Nevada. The romaine heads were available to consumers in bulk bins from July 2-4, according to the recall notice.

Pacific International Marketing officials were pleased that only 19 cases in the lot of about 1,000 cases were distributed to retailers, Tripp said. He credited the company’s food safety protocols for the quick response that kept 98% of the lot from leaving distribution centers.

According to the recall notice, the bulk romaine was distributed in Pacific International’s reusable plastic containers with 15 heads in each container. It has the code 12EASROM182 on the RPCs. The lettuce heads were banded with a red twist tie with “Safeway” printed on it.

The recall is only for bulk romaine distributed in RPCs. No carton or bagged romaine products are included in the recall.