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FDA Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Likely Linked to Romaine Lettuce Grown in California

UPDATED on December 17, 2018: The FDA, along with CDC, state and local agencies, is investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses linked to romaine lettuce grown in California this fall. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are also coordinating with U.S. agencies as they investigate a similar outbreak in Canada.

On December 13, 2018, Adam Bros. Farming, Inc., in Santa Barbara County, recalled products that may have come into contact with water from the water reservoir where the outbreak strain was found. The firm recalled red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and cauliflower harvested on November 27 through 30, 2018. According to the firm, cauliflower was distributed to wholesalers in the U.S. Mexico, and Canada.

The Adam Bros. recall has prompted a recall by Spokane Produce Inc. of Spokane, WA. The firm recalled sandwiches and other products under the Northwest Cuisine Creations and Fresh&Local labels.

Recommendation:

Consumers:

Consumers should not eat recalled products and should throw them away. Consumers also should not eat romaine from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California.

Based on discussions with producers and distributors, romaine lettuce entering the market will now be voluntarily labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date or labeled as being hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown. Romaine lettuce with the new labeling is available in stores. Consumers should look for signs in stores where labels are not an option. If signs or labels do not have this information, you should not eat or use it.

If it does have this information, we advise avoiding romaine from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California. Romaine from outside those regions need not be avoided. Additional counties may be added or subtracted as FDA traceback investigation continues.

For example, romaine lettuce harvested from areas that include, but are not limited to, the following do not appear to be related to the current outbreak:

  • the desert growing region near Yuma, Arizona
  • the California desert growing region near Imperial County and Riverside County
  • the counties of Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz in California
  • the state of Florida
  • Mexico
Additionally, there is no evidence hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine is related to the current outbreak, and there is, also, no recommendation to avoid romaine from these sources.

Restaurants and Retailers:
Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell romaine from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California. Romaine from outside those regions need not be avoided. See the list above of examples of growing areas not related to the current outbreak. Retailers and restaurants should discard any recalled product.

Retailers should ensure that there is labeling with the harvest date and location on each bag of romaine, or that there is signage when labels are not an option.

Suppliers and Distributors:
Suppliers, distributors and others in the supply chain should not ship or sell romaine from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California. Romaine from outside those regions need not be. Distributors and suppliers should discard any recalled product.

FDA recommends that labels are placed on romaine lettuce entering the market to help consumers, restaurants and retailers determine that the romaine is from unaffected growing regions outside of Monterey, San Benito, or Santa Barbara counties in California.