Health, Sci-Tech

FDA warns against eating romaine lettuce from Salinas, California

NOTTINGHAM, MD—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state health authorities are investigating an outbreak of illnesses caused by E. coli in the United States.

Evidence indicates that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region is a likely source of this outbreak.

Consumers should not eat romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California.

Romaine lettuce may be voluntarily labeled with a harvest region. If romaine lettuce has “Salinas” on the label in any form (whether alone or with the name of another location) do not eat it. Throw it away or return it to the place of purchase. If romaine lettuce does not have information about harvest region or does not indicate that it has been grown indoors (i.e., hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown), throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

Consumers ordering salad containing romaine at a restaurant or at a salad bar should ask the staff whether the romaine came from Salinas. If it did, or they do not know, do not eat it.

According to the CDC, as of November 21, 2019, 40 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 16 states. The case patients report that illnesses started on dates ranging from September 24, 2019 to November 10, 2019.

The Maryland Department of Health identified E. coli O157:H7 in an unopened package of Ready Pac Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salad collected from an ill person’s home in Maryland. Analysis of this salad has linked strain E. coli O157:H7 to three Maryland cases and the multi-state outbreak.

Preliminary information indicates that ill people in Maryland were exposed to romaine lettuce harvested in Salinas, California.

FDA is deploying investigators to the farms in question to try to determine the source and extent of the contamination. More information will be forthcoming as the investigation proceeds.

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