(UPDATED COVERAGE, Jan. 1) The Kroger Co. has pulled heads of Growers Express iceberg lettuce off some store shelves after the grower took what may be an unprecedented action requesting the withdrawal because product from an adjacent field tested positive for salmonella.
Growers Express chief executive officer Jamie Strachan told The Associated Press that no product from his company tested positive but Growers Express alerted customers "out of an abundance of caution."
Kroger originally said it pulled the lettuce from some Kroger banners in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, and all of its Smith's Food and Drug stores in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada. A Kroger spokesman later said North Carolina didn't receive the product, according to the AP, and ABC television affiliate WRIC in Richmond, Va., reported a Kroger spokesman said only the Smith's Food stores received the lettuce. The television station reported the lettuce "was identified and destroyed at distribution warehouses."
As of Jan. 1, however, the Kroger website still listed the five eastern states as part of the withdrawal.
According to the AP, the retailer pulled the iceberg lettuce on Dec. 29. Although Kroger and Smith"s call the action an "active recall" on their websites, Strachan said it was a voluntary "market withdrawal."
Strachan declined to name the grower or distributor of the lettuce grown in the adjacent field in Arizona, and the Food and Drug Administration, which routinely posts recall notices submitted by grower-shippers on its website, lists no information on a recent lettuce recall.
Strachan told the AP the crops growing in the adjacent field "south of Phoenix" were destroyed. News reports did not say the specific location of the fields or what was grown in the adjacent field.