The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a public health alert after chopped romaine lettuce that could contain the parasite cyclospora was used in a number of salads and wraps destined for retailers. ( Courtesy USDA-FSIS )

(UPDATED 7:15 p.m.) A chopped romaine recall by Fresh Express, Salinas, Calif., for cyclospora concerns has led Caito Foods LLC, Indianapolis to pull 25 deli salads and wrap products from retailers.

The list of products includes Caesar salads with chicken, cobb salads, taco salad and chicken Caesar wraps. No illnesses have  been linked to any of the products.

Barbara Hines, a Fresh Express spokeswoman, said the company on July 27 recalled a limited number of expired institutional salad products “not marked or intended for retail sale” after a single random sample test of a romaine-carrot mix yielded a positive result for the cyclospora organism.

“Fresh Express notified affected institutional customers to confirm that the expired recalled products were removed or had already been removed from inventories, or from the stream of commerce if they had been repackaged and relabeled for consumer sale,” Hines said in an e-mail.

Recalled lettuce products were packaged for foodservice use in multi-pound clear plastic packs; they did not have the Fresh Express logo and were not marked or intended for retail sale as packaged.

A list from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) shows the products were destined for Gordon Food Service, Caito Food Distribution and retailers Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Walgreen’s. Products shipped to the retailers are noted as “RFG.” Product photos supplied by the USDA show some of the recalled items carry the Renaissance Food Group’s Garden Highway Brand.

The FSIS issued a public health alert, and not the Food and Drug Administration, because products containing meat and poultry fall under the FSIS jurisdiction. The alert is dated July 30.

The beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products have production dates of July 15-18, and best by/enjoy by/best is sold by/sell by dates range from July 18-23. The USDA’s list of products has Universal Product Codes and other identifying information. The products have establishment numbers — EST. 39985 or P-39985 — inside or next to the USDA inspection mark.

According to the USDA notice, the “problem was discovered when Caito Foods LLC received notification from their lettuce supplier, Fresh Express, that the chopped romaine that is used to manufacture some of their salads and wraps was being recalled.”

Caito Foods and FSIS are working to “remove the products from commerce,” according to the notice.

Federal health officials are working with state and local agencies on two outbreaks of linked to cyclospora parasites. Fresh Del Monte has recalled vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery in certain states after consumers became ill.

The FDA is also investigating a cluster of illnesses caused by cyclospora linked to MdDonald’s salads in another multi-state outbreak.

“Along with the rest of the industry, Fresh Express is hopeful public health investigators will identify a definitive source for the Cyclospora outbreak clusters soon,” Hines said in the e-mail. “The Fresh Express food safety team is working vigilantly with public health agencies and outside experts to assist in the investigation in any way possible.”

 
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