Food Safety Magazine

News | November 28, 2018

FDA Identifies Six California Counties Where Contaminated Romaine Lettuce Originated

By Staff

FDA Identifies Six California Counties Where Contaminated Romaine Lettuce Originated

As health officials continue to pinpoint the source of the most current Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, they have been able to drill down to more specifics about where the contaminated lettuce was grown. The specific California counties that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified in the traceback investigation are:

Monterey
San Benito
San Luis Obispo
Santa Barbara
Santa Cruz
Ventura

Romaine harvested from locations outside of the California regions identified by the traceback investigation does not appear to be related to the current outbreak.

There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine lettuce that is certain to have been harvested from areas outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. For example, romaine lettuce harvested from areas that include, but are not limited to the desert growing region near Yuma, the California desert growing region near Imperial County and Riverside County, the state of Florida, and Mexico, does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Additionally, there is no evidence hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine is related to the current outbreak.

During this new stage of the investigation, it is vital that consumers and retailers have an easy way to identify romaine lettuce by both harvest date and harvest location. Labeling with this information on each bag of romaine or signage in stores where labels are not an option would easily differentiate for consumers romaine from unaffected growing regions.

FDA’s Recommendation:

Based on discussions with producers and distributors, romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date or labeled as being hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown. If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.

If romaine lettuce does have this labeling information, FDA advises avoiding any product from the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. Romaine lettuce from outside those regions need not be avoided.

Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.

FDA's update released on November 28th tallies 43 total illnesses and 16 hospitalizations in this most recent outbreak.

Related news:
FDA: Contaminated Romaine Lettuce is from California

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