FDA Update on Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Likely Linked to Romaine Lettuce Grown in California
Update: December 13, 2018
The Food and Drug Administration has narrowed the list of romaine growing areas that FDA recommends consumers and retailers avoid down to the following counties: Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara.
San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties in California have been removed from the list at this time. Other growing areas, for example Florida, Mexico and the desert growing regions near Yuma and Imperial County, Riverside County do not appear to be related to the current outbreak.
The strain of E. coli O157:H7 causing the current outbreak was identified in one sample collected in the sediment of an agricultural water reservoir at one ranch owned and operated by Adam Bros. Farming, Inc., in Santa Barbara County.
Romaine lettuce entering the market will now be voluntarily labelled with a harvest location and a harvest date or labelled as being hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown. If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.
Romaine lettuce from Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz counties harvested after November 23, 2018 should be labelled with harvest area and harvest date, allowing it to be distinguished from romaine lettuce that should be avoided.
Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in 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.
This information allows FDA to modify its recommendations slightly. Given the identification of the outbreak pathogen on the one farm, the location of farms identified in the traceback, and the fact that the lettuce on the market at the peak of the outbreak should be beyond shelf life, there is no longer a reason for consumers to avoid romaine from San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Ventura Counties, in California, provided it was harvested after November 23, 2018. The traceback investigation is still ongoing and additional information will be provided as it becomes available.