SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Public health agencies have issued an update on the number of illnesses involved in the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, CA. There is no change in the consumer advisory which continues to focus on romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing region only.
To all of those sickened in this outbreak, we want you to know that we truly believed we were doing everything possible to prevent this outbreak. We take the food we grow home to our own families and we are sincerely sorry for the heartbreak this situation has caused.
In the past few days, the leafy greens industry has been working closely with their customers to remove any romaine grown in the Salinas region from marketing channels. All harvest and shipping of romaine grown in Salinas has ceased and fields that remained to be harvested are being plowed under by growers.
The LGMA encourages consumers to look for the Harvest Location Label printed on packages of romaine which indicate the region where the product was grown. These labels can take many different forms. They are meant to provide information about the Harvest Date and Location which is printed directly onto the packages or in the form of a small sticker. Examples of Harvest Location Labels can be found here.
Consumers should look for labels with the words: Yuma, Phoenix, Southern Arizona, Northern Arizona, Northern California, Santa Maria, Southern California, Imperial Valley, Coachella and Central Valley. These are all SAFE to eat. Romaine from other states and Mexico is also okay. And hydroponically and greenhouse grown romaine is fine to eat too.
If you are buying bulk romaine that is not in a package, ask your produce department personnel or waiter to confirm where the romaine is from.
Please know that leafy greens farmers are doing all they can to prevent outbreaks like this from occurring and they are as frustrated as anyone that outbreaks continue to be associated with romaine. The entire produce industry is focused on learning everything we can about how this outbreak happened. We pledge to take every possible action to prevent future illnesses.