Saturday, May 8, 2010

National E coli Outbreak Traced To Yuma Farm in Arizona

 As if Arizona didn't have enough problems as a result of boycotts threatening its $18 billion tourism industry because of the anti-immigrant law passed by the Legislature, federal investigators are looking at a Yuma farm as the possible source of a widespread E.coli outbreak from romaine lettuce.

The Food and Drug Administration reported 19 people were sickened by E.coli -- three with life-threatening illness -- traced to the Yuma farm which it declined to name.

Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, said it recalled lettuce sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia it purchased from the farm. Recalled was all romaine lettuce products stamped with a shelf date on or before May 12.

Devon Beer, Freshway's vice president, said the recall also included "grab and go" salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores. 

The lettuce was sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

A website reporting on Arizona tourism said the state's hotel and lodging association reported last week that six major conventions were canceled as a result of the fragmented boycott efforts in states from California across the country to New York.

The Major League Players Association said it urges cancellation of the All-Star Game scheduled for Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in 2011 because of the preponderance of Latino players on team rosters. However, Commissioner Bud Selig's office has indicated it will not change the game's location.

Most of the out-of-state boycott threats come from cities canceling plans to travel to Arizona and doing business with Arizona firms. Some trucking firms say they will refuse drivers even to carry interstate shipments through the state.

The tourism website said the city of Phoenix recently completed $600 million of renovations on its convention center and the cancellations could stick local taxpayers to pay the center's debts. The city is facing a $240 million budget shortfall, it said.

Fallout from the law could affect the 200,000 people, many of them Latinos, who depend on the tourism industry for their paycheck.

Gov. Jan Brewer refused to back down from the state's tough law, claiming the state had no choice because Congress has failed to enact an immigration reform law. The law makes it illegal for anyone without proper legal papers to be in the state. It also authorizes police to ask for documentation after a person is stopped and questioned for another local or state violation.

Readers comments are welcome as long as they remain civil. We reserve the right to delete any comments that are vulgar, libelous and totally irrelevant to this posting. -- Jer

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