Romaine, it seems, is back at it again—and not in a good way. On November 22, the CDC released a statement warning that the classic leafy green could be at risk for E. coli.
Now before we go tossing lettuce out the window, it’s important to note that the CDC advises only against romaine (or products containing the green) sourced from the Salinas Valley, in California. For now, the recall only concerns romaine grown in the region, and no other produce.
The center recommends checking your product for a label that should indicate where your lettuce was grown. If it’s grown in Salinas, they say, throw it out. Per the CDC's website, "no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified."
The USDA has also recalled a slew of romaine-laden products that are at risk for contamination, such as certain pre-packaged lettuce mixes, or grocery store-packed salad bowls. You can identify the contaminated products as follows: Look for the establishment number “EST. 18502B” written inside the USDA mark of inspection on the label, and “Use By” dates ranging from October 29, 2019, to November 1, 2019. If you’re unsure, the center advises discarding the lettuce anyway. There has been no mention of an official refund of any kind from retailers.
The CDC reports that this strain of E. coli is the same one that caused similar outbreaks associated with leafy greens in 2017, and romaine lettuce in 2018. Common symptoms of E. coli include cramps, diarrhea, or vomiting. As many as 40 people in 16 states have been infected by the recent contamination, but no fatalities have occurred to date. For any and all information regarding the outbreak, and the subsequent recall, visit the CDC’s official page here.
With Thanksgiving and other big holiday meals approaching, it might be time to reconsider your go-to green. If you planned on serving a romaine salad, we recommend double-checking the label. And until the recall is cleared, here are a bunch of salads that use lettuces besides romaine:
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.
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