Is it safe to eat romaine lettuce yet? Here are the latest details

November 28, 2018

Lettuce E. Coli

 WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Food-safety investigators have traced the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak to Californian growing fields, but regulators still say it's unsafe to eat the leafy green in 11 states.

Meanwhile, federal regulators are holding public meetings to discuss new efforts to limit future food poisonings, like the 32 cases that prompted alerts discouraging eating any romaine lettuce indefinitely just days before Thanksgiving. 

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently updated Americans about the romaine lettuce outbreak.

"CDC’s disease detectives are working with federal regulatory partners to investigate and determine the source of contamination as quickly as possible," said Redfield, adding the CDC's disease surveillance system caught the outbreak early and probably prevented further illness.

"However, until we know more, it’s crucial that Americans continue to follow the guidance that CDC issued," he said. "There are no exceptions – all romaine lettuce must be discarded, regardless of brand, type or if it is in a mixture."

CDC continued to urge people to follow its tips to help prevent E. coli illness. In addition, it reminded clinicians that antibiotics are not recommended for patients in whom this E. coli strain is suspected until diagnostic testing rules out the infection.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday morning that the outbreak is linked to California-based romaine lettuce. He noted the Golden State connection is based on observed "growing and harvesting patterns," USA TODAY reported.

The commissioner's comments suggested that romaine grown in other states may soon be safe to eat. 

"New romaine from different growing regions, including Florida and Arizona, will soon be harvested," Gottlieb tweeted. "We’re working with growers and distributors on labeling produce for location and harvest date and possibly other ways of informing consumers that the product is 'post-purge.' "


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