(FDACS) — On Friday, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced that romaine lettuce associated with an outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 is likely from the Salinas growing region of California. 40 illnesses have been reported across 16 states since September 24.
Florida-grown lettuce is not implicated in this outbreak, and the FDA has indicated there are neither positive samples nor reported illnesses in Florida.
“Ensuring food safety and protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses are some of our most important responsibilities, especially with pathogenic E. colibacteria,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nicole “Nikki” Fried. “We strongly advise consumers to seek romaine lettuce with the “Fresh From Florida” logo ensuring its Florida-grown, and to avoid products that state and federal inspectors have found to carry risk of illness.”
For Consumers: The FDA has advised consumers not to eat romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas region. The agency also advised consumers not to eat products identified in a recall announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on November 21. If consumers purchase lettuce with “Salinas” on the label in any form, the FDA advises to discard it and not consume it. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services advises consumers to look for the “Fresh From Florida” logo or other label indicating the lettuce was grown in Florida. If the product contains no growing region label, consumers should not consume it.
For Retailers/Restaurants/Distributors: Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, those in the supply chain should check the label on bags or boxes of romaine lettuce, ask suppliers about the source of romaine lettuce, and not ship or sell romaine lettuce harvested in Salinas, California.
Recalled Products: According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, all products with the number “EST. 18502B” inside the USDA mark of inspection are subject to a Class I recall, including certain Ready Pac Bistro® Salads. These products were distributed in 22 states, including Florida. This includes all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, packages of pre-cut lettuce, and salad mixes containing romaine such as baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad. A USDA Class I recall indicates the highest health hazard, with an increased probability of “serious, adverse health consequences or death.”
E. coli Symptoms & Warnings: Eating food or drinking water contaminated with some types of pathogenic E. coli can be life-threatening, with symptoms beginning several days after ingestion including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, nausea, and/or vomiting. People of any age can become infected, but children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are more likely to develop severe illness as a result of E. coli infection.