Dole Recalls Bagged Lettuce in U.S., Canada

A division of Dole Food issued an international recall of bagged salad Monday after a sample taken from a store in Canada tested positive for E. coli, the company said.

There have been no reports of illness, company officials said.

The voluntary recall affects all packages of Dole's Hearts Delight salad mix sold in the United States and Canada with a "best if used by" date of September 19, 2007, and a production code of "A24924A" or "A24924B," Dole said.

The product was sold in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces in Canada and in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and neighboring U.S. states starting the weekend before last, said Marty Ordman, a Dole spokesman.

The romaine, green leaf and butter lettuce hearts that went into the blend were grown in California, Colorado and Ohio, then processed at Dole's plant in Springfield, Ohio on Sept. 6, according to Ordman.

Eighty-eight cases were distributed in Canada and 755 cases in the U.S., he said.

The company's move came a day after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned consumers not to eat Hearts Delight.

"Our overriding concern is for consumer safety," Eric Schwartz, president of the Dole Fresh Vegetable division said in a statement. He said the company was working with U.S. and Canadian health agencies, as well as those in various states.

The Food and Drug Administration was talking with Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole about the situation, agency spokesman Michael Herndon said.

The Canadian agency said it would be looking to find out at what point the salad blend, which is imported into Canada, became contaminated and to see if any other products are affected, spokesman Garfield Balsom said.

Last year, an E. coli outbreak traced to bagged baby spinach was blamed for the deaths of three people and for sickening hundreds more across the U.S. State and federal authorities ultimately identified a central California cattle ranch next to spinach fields belonging to one of Dole's suppliers as being the source of the bacteria.

Food contaminated with this strain of E. coli may not look or smell spoiled but health officials say the bacteria can cause life-threatening illnesses.

Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea; some people can have seizures or strokes and some may need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis, while others may live with permanent kidney damage.