The FDA Declares Romaine Lettuce from Salinas, California E. coli Outbreak Officially Over
There have been no more reported cases of illness due to this contamination since December 21, 2019. Officials believe that the contaminated romaine lettuce from Salinas, CA is no longer available on the market to consumers. Although the outbreak has been declared over, the FDA will continue to investigate possible factors which caused this outbreak for future preventative measures. In the meantime, the public may resume the consumption of romaine lettuce and other products from Salinas, CA.
The FDA, CDC, and the California health and agricultural authorities have found a common grower in Salinas, CA area which is likely linked with several other cases of E. coli outbreak. One of the outbreaks included cases in the U.S. and Canada, specifically Washington State, over leafy greens, and others over Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits. In total, this expansive E. coli outbreak led to the illness of 167 people in 27 states with 85 hospitalizations. Fortunately, there were no reported deaths due to this outbreak.
When officials went to farms in Salinas, CA to test the water, soil, and produce, the fields were already plowed and empty as the growing season had already ended. However, the investigation team took samples of the soil, water and compost, and sent it to a lab for testing. Only one test returned positive for a different (and non-threatening) strain of E. coli compared to the one responsible for the outbreak. While officials are confident that there is reasonable evidence the outbreak is over, they admit that the romaine lettuce from this particular grower does not account for all the illnesses caused by the outbreak.
The FDA has stated that in a continuous effort to protect the public from any future outbreaks of this kind, they will conduct a root cause investigation of the outbreak. Furthermore, they will be monitoring the process of the farm’s planting, growing, and harvesting during the next season and report any future findings to their website.