U.S. and state health officials are still in the midst of investigating an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak caused by romaine lettuce grown in the Salina, CA, growing region. According to the latest published updates,138 people have fallen ill in 25 states. Seventy-two people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported. The last date that a patient has reported becoming ill was December 1st.
The epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that the romaine lettuce in question came from a single grower in Salinas. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture have sent a team to conduct new investigations in several ranches used by this single grower. The agencies are trying to pinpoint the source of contamination.
The investigation includes assessing and sampling soil, animal droppings, compost, water, and other potential environmental sources at the ranches of this grower. The samples and information collected during the farm investigations will be analyzed.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently reported that they identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in an unopened bag of Fresh Express brand Leafy Green Romaine collected from an ill person’s home. The source of the romaine identified in the bag was Salinas, California. It was determined that one of the growers of this product also supplied romaine linked to other E. coli outbreaks that FDA is investigating.
As the investigation continues, FDA is still warning consumers against eating romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing region.