(UPDATED COVERAGE, Jan. 16) FreshPoint Toronto expanded its recall of shredded lettuces distributed to restaurants — including KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Burger King — hotels and institution customers across Canada because health agencies linked the leafy greens to 28 E. coli cases.
FreshPoint Toronto’s general manager Dan Wilson referred questions about the recall to Sysco Corp., Houston, the parent company of FreshPoint.
Charley Wilson, vice president of corporate communications for Sysco, said Jan. 14 that the ongoing nature of the investigation limits the company’s ability to comment.
“FreshPoint has fully cooperated with and assisted Canadian food inspection authorities in this investigation,” Wilson said.
“FreshPoint regularly goes to extensive lengths to ensure that consumers receive safe and healthy fresh food products through its suppliers, state-of-the-art processing facilities and distribution centers. This includes routinely monitoring product quality and food safety systems to ensure compliance and customer satisfaction.”
The original source for the lettuce has not been revealed. However, a consumer question and answer page about the recalled lettuce set up by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency states that “lettuce entering Canada from California must be certified under the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement.”
Canadian food and health officials reported there is no indication any of the recalled products were distributed to grocery stores, so they did not issue a public health recall alert.
The expanded recall on the CFIA website lists 13 Sysco brand foodservice salad products, as well as two products for use by Burger King, one product for Pizza Hut, one for KFC’s parent company YUM and one product with the FreshPoint Inc. brand. All of those products have use-by dates of Jan. 8 and 10.
The initial recall Jan. 10 issued by FreshPoint Toronto, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, included shredded iceberg and romaine lettuce for use by KFC and Taco Bell restaurants.
The E. coli cases reported by Canadian food and health agencies linked to the lettuce spanned New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario as of Jan. 11. The CFIA recall investigation details show the lettuce was also distributed to foodservice customers in Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The first illnesses linked to the FreshPoint lettuce were reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada on Dec. 31. At that time there were five confirmed E. coli O157:H7 cases in New Brunswick. As of Jan. 11 the confirmed cases stood at 26.
The food safety investigation is ongoing, Lisa Gauthier, spokeswoman for the CFIA, said Jan. 14.
Laboratory analysis has shown that the E. coli cases are linked and an epidemological assessment by Canadian health officials identified that lettuce distributed to certain restaurants is the likely cause, according to the CFIA.