California romaine lettuce gets a public health break
On Thanksgiving eve, consumers were being advised to beware California romaine lettuce for fear of E. coli contamination. The Food and Drug Administration said that this had made 43 people in 12 states ill and in a link to the U.S. situation, apparently sickened another 22 people in Canada.
There wasn't a lot of nuance in that warning. Consumers, who were likely planning Thanksgiving salads containing romaine were simply told to throw the stuff out and scrub out their refrigerator to get rid of any contamination.
Now, the Guam Department of Public Health is passing along the latest from the FDA, which appears to put the situation in more perspective and, by the way, reports that they've received no reports of romaine-related problems, at least on Guam.
From the FDA: "[The FDA] has reason to believe that the romaine lettuce associated with the outbreak comes from Central Coast growing region of central and northern California. These areas are known to grow romaine lettuce over the summer months and the outbreak appears to be related to the 'end of season' harvest. FDA's investigation is still on-going and they are conducting trackbacks of romaine lettuce from locations where ill consumers purchased or consumed romaine lettuce in order to identify specific locations that may potentially be the source of the outbreak, as well as the factors that resulted in the contamination."
Translation from Bureaucratese: You need to know where your romaine lettuce was grown. The FDA further advises that if your retailer can't tell you where it came from, it would be wise not to buy or, if you already bought and can't figure out where it's from, take it back or throw it out. The good news for romaine lovers: There appears to be no problem with greenhouse or hydroponic versions of the lettuce.