FDA Releases Overview of Latest Romaine Outbreak

Just a month after the latest romaine lettuce outbreak was declared over, the FDA has released an overview into its investigations.

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When E. coli contaminated romaine lettuce had another outbreak late last year, FDA officials made it clear: this product is dangerous.

Grocers quickly removed the green from its shelves, restaurants wiped it clean from their menus. It was unclear how long the recall would take place and if officials were even able to determine the source.

The FDA , CDC and starter partners were able to track the lettuce back to central-California, with only one source of the outbreak: Adam Bros. Farming located in Santa Maria, California. Investigators found an environmental sample that tested positive for the presence of the outbreak strain of E. coli, prompting the farm to recall several other products as well. While there is no evidence to indicate that this farm is the sole source, the outbreak strain was not detected in any other samples collected during the investigation. 

The FDA released an overview that details on the outbreak, concluding that the water from the on-farm water reservoir where the outbreak strain was most likely led to contamination of some romaine lettuce during the outbreak. The water was also most likely not effectively treated with a sanitizer, potentially making it have contact with romaine lettuce after harvest or by the washing/rinsing harvest equipment food contact surfaces.

The agency is unsure of how the water became contaminated, and no evidence was found to identify and confirm an obvious route for on-farm contamination, or from adjacent land, to the on-farm water reservoir. 

The outbreak sickened 62 people across 16 states and the District of Columbia and was declared over by the CDC on January 9, 2019. No deaths were reported. 

To read the full overview, please click here