Market Destroys Lettuce Found to Have High Levels of Pesticide

After a health alert by state officials, Stater Bros. Markets Inc. has destroyed what remained of 400 cases of iceberg lettuce possibly contaminated with overly high levels of pesticide, a company official said Saturday.

Jack Brown, president of the supermarket chain, said he had been notified late Friday that state pesticide enforcement officials had discovered impermissible high levels of the pesticide Mevinphos on lettuce shipped to his company on Wednesday.

The contamination "levels found are not high enough that any illness would be expected unless large quantities of the contaminated lettuce would be eaten," state Department of Health Director Kenneth Kizer said Friday.

Established tolerance levels are set at 0.5 parts per million, but investigators found the pesticide levels to be at 2 parts per million. Kizer reported that Mevinphos levels on the King Fisher brand of lettuce exceeded the established tolerance level.

"Even though peeling the outer leaves and washing the lettuce would minimize any risk of illness, as a precaution consumers who purchased the lettuce from Stater markets in Southern California may wish to return or dispose of the lettuce," Kizer said.

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