A California farm has issued a recall of 33,000 pounds of lettuce that went to 19 states and Canada after a federal food inspector found samples that were contaminated with listeria, the AP reports:
Listeria rarely shows up in produce, but federal health officials say they’ve gotten better at detecting the germs that cause food poisoning, so they are seeing them in produce more often. [...]
The finding of listeria in romaine lettuce at the Salinas farm was a result of an FDA research program to understand the prevalence of the pathogen in fresh produce, especially in lettuce and leafy greens, [FDA spokeswoman Stephanie] Yao said. [...]
The FDA has isolated listeria in leafy green produce three times so far this year, Yao said.
Listeria is the same bacteria that caused the deadliest food outbreak in a decade last month when at least 16 died who had eaten tainted melons. Fortunately, thanks to the FDA’s food inspectors, the lettuce contamination won’t have the same deadly effect.
But as ThinkProgress has noted, even as these food outbreaks occur, Republican lawmakers are trying to gut food safety laws in the name of spending cuts and less regulation on businesses. In June, House Republicans attempted to kill the first significant upgrade in the nation’s food safety regime in more than 70 years, saying the private food industry sufficiently self-polices. Their plan would have imperiled the jobs of 3,000 food inspectors. Last month, presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called for an end to food safety laws that she claimed were stifling job creation. One in six Americans is sickened by food-borne illness each year, and more than 3,000 die.