FDA, CDC Issue New Warning About Romaine Lettuce

Greens from Salinas, Calif., may have caused latest E.coli outbreak, agencies say
romaine ecoli
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have again warned foodservice operators from serving romaine lettuce after determining the produce may have caused an E.coli outbreak that has spread to 19 states.

Lettuce from Salinas, Calif., may have caused the outbreak, according to the agencies. The romaine lettuce recalls from late 2018 tracked back to Yuma, Ariz.

The Maryland Department of Health first identified the E.coli strain in an unopened package of Ready Pac Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad produced by Ready Pac Foods Inc., Irwindale, Calif. As of Nov. 25. 67 people had been diagnosed with E.coli and 39 had been hospitalized, according to the agencies. The outbreaks occurred in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

More than 75,000 pounds of salad products have been recalled due to this E. oli outbreak, according to the agencies. Besides Ready Pac Foods, recalled brands included Bonduelle, Aldi private label, Marketside, Signature Cafe and Signature Farms.

The agencies advise foodservice operators to check with their suppliers and distributors to confirm the source of the lettuce they use. If it was raised in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito or and Monterey counties in California, do not use it, they said.

So far, the outbreak does not include romaine lettuce harvested outside the Salinas region, and there is no recommendation for consumers to avoid using romaine harvested from other areas, the agencies said.

E.coli bacteria can be spread through undercooked food or transferred directly from one person to another through contact. It causes a variety of symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. It has been known to be fatal for children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

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