The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an update today on an E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce announced last week. Last week’s announcement advised consumers and retailers to throw out all romaine lettuce since no specific source of romaine lettuce had been tied to the outbreak.
According to today’s announcement, romaine lettuce remains the focus of the investigation but now officials are saying the outbreak has been linked to romaine lettuce grown in California this fall. “Specifically, current evidence indicates this romaine was harvested in the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California,” officials said in today’s announcement. “Romaine harvested from locations outside of the California regions identified by the traceback investigation does not appear to be related to the current outbreak.”
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, we advise 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.
Labeling with this information on each bag of romaine or signage in stores where labels are not an option will enable easily differentiating romaine from unaffected growing regions according to officials.
There have been a total of 43 case-patients associated with the outbreak. States with cases: CA (11), CT (1), IL (2), MA (2), MD (1), MI (7), NH (2), NJ (9), NY (5), OH (1), RI (1), WI (1). There is a similar outbreak in Canada.