It is unlikely that anybody currently has edible romaine lettuce that has been infected since March with the toxic burden of E. coli bacteria that afflict people nationwide. That was the message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and if it's not exactly a thundering signal from "All Right," it's pretty close.
Romaine lettuce has a shelf life of about 21 days. The current outbreak has been traced to the Yuma, Arizona growing region, the source of virtually all salads sold in the country during the winter months. The CDC said on Wednesday that April 16 was the last day that Romaine lettuce was harvested in the Yuma area. The leafy vegetable industry has moved to California in the last two months.
"Romaine lettuce from the Yuma region is beyond its shelf life and is likely no longer sold in stores or served in restaurants," said the CDC press release. In the last official update, the CDC found that new cases of E. coli-related food poisoning date back to when contaminated lettuce is still in circulation or in household refrigerators.
"It takes two to three weeks between a person gets sick with E. coli and when the disease is reported to CDC," the agency said. "The most recent CDC-reported illnesses began when Roman salad from the Yuma growing region was still likely to be available in shops, restaurants and in people's homes."
The CDC has discouraged consumers from throwing away romaine lettuce when they can
By May 1
This outbreak is approaching the outbreak of the 2006 E. coli outbreak of baby spinach, which has left more than 200 people ill and killed five. The strain of E. coli, known as O157: H7, produces a Shiga toxin that can seriously affect people, causing diarrhea and vomiting and, in severe cases, kidney failure.
The Food and Drug Administration has found out exactly where and when Romaine, who was involved in this recent outbreak, was contaminated. A farm in Yuma was identified as the source of the salad that sickened eight prisoners in Alaska, but FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb revealed a little on Wednesday night how complicated the case is
The FDA, he tweeted, "ruled out the contamination was caused by just one farm, suggesting it was a complex problem, and it will take more time to investigate. "