CDC narrows source of contaminated romaine lettuce

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Federal health officials have narrowed the suspected sources of E. coli-contaminated romaine lettuce. The CDC and FDA now advise that U.S. consumers not eat and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California.

This updated recommendation comes as CDC, FDA, health officials in several states, and Canada continue to investigate a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 illnesses linked to romaine lettuce.

In today’s world, it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to know exactly where your food comes from. So the simplest recommendation for salad lovers is this:

If you don’t know where your romaine lettuce is from, do not eat it.


Labels are being prepared that will shown where lettuce comes from but it will likely be some time before these labels start to show up in stores.

The CDC and FDA say that romaine lettuce harvested from regions outside of the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California is not linked to the current outbreak. Neither is romaine lettuce grown in greenhouses or hydroponically.

Forty-three people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 12 states. Sixteen of those people have been hospitalized, including one person with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported.

At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified. FDA is working with industry to add labeling to product to enable consumers and retailers to follow this new recommendation.

About the Author

Truman Lewis
Truman has been a bureau chief and correspondent in D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, reporting for radio, television, print and news services, for more than 30 years. Most recently, he has reported extensively on health and consumer issues for ConsumerAffairs.com and FairfaxNews.com.