May be Source of Latest Romaine Lettuce Outbreak
By FBWorld Team
Food and Drug Administration's (F.D.A.) traceback investigation
of an E. coliO157:H7 outbreak that has sickened at least 65
people indicates the product may have been sourced from growing
regions in central California. Romaine lettuce harvested from
locations outside of California do not appear to be related
to the current outbreak.
is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using
romaine lettuce that is certain to have been harvested from
areas outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern
and central California," the F.D.A. said. "For example,
romaine lettuce harvested from areas that include, but are not
limited to the desert growing region near Yuma, the California
desert growing region near Imperial county and Riverside county,
the state of Florida, and Mexico, does not appear to be related
to the current outbreak. Additionally, there is no evidence
hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine is related to the
aid consumers in identifying the growing region of romaine lettuce,
growers, packers and marketers have agreed to begin labeling
product to identify the region of the country it was sourced.
the growing origin of produce will continue to play an important
role in allowing consumers to avoid contaminated products and
facilitating market withdrawals and tracebacks," said Scott
Gottlieb, M.D., commissioner of the F.D.A. "To this end,
the F.D.A. recently participated in discussions with the major
producers and distributors of romaine lettuce in the U.S. and
with the major trade associations representing the produce industry
regarding product labeling and dating to assure consumers that
any romaine lettuce that will come onto the market is not associated
with the current outbreak of E. coli O157:H7."
labeling will include the origin of the romaine based on harvest
region and the date it was harvested. The leafy greens industry
also has agreed to create a task force to find solutions for
long-term labeling of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens,
according to the F.D.A.
Produce Marketing Association (P.M.A.), Newark, Del., expressed
its support for the labeling initiative.
recognize that voluntary source labeling is not true traceability,
but it is a mechanism to ensure consumers have access to romaine
that was not implicated in the outbreak," the P.M.A. said.
"A standardized approach to source labeling is new to the
industry and we expect situation-specific questions that were
not anticipated. All involved, including F.D.A., recognize that
we will need to gain real-world experience as companies develop
the most workable approach in different situations."