Great news, romaine-lovers: You no longer need to shy away from Caesar salad!
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all tainted romaine lettuce that was previously linked to an E. coli outbreak in the Yuma growing region of Arizona is likely out of circulation by now. In a tweet posted on May 18, the CDC said “the romaine lettuce being sold and served today is NOT the romaine linked to illnesses.”
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) added that the 21-day shelf life of romaine makes it “unlikely” that any remains in stores or consumer’s homes. The last crop of the contaminated produce was harvested on April 16, 2018, the FDA said.
According to the CDC, this specific E. coli outbreak made 172 people ill from March until May, caused 75 people to become hospitalized, and killed one person in California. Overall, 32 states reported illnesses from romaine lettuce.
Patricia Bowman, CHE, FMP, CFSP, CFSE, an online instructor and professor in the Johnson & Wales University Center for Food and Beverage Management, says that this type of outbreak is alarming for consumers and can make them somewhat untrusting of restaurants and food vendors.
“I think everyone is on alert since the foodborne illness outbreaks that Chipotle has had recently,” she said. “When any outbreak occurs, we are very quick to blame the employee and forget the process.”
Part of the process is for restaurateurs to know where their produce is coming from. The CDC recommends that restaurant and kitchen managers ask their suppliers about the source of their food so that they know whether or not their stock could be contaminated.
With that being said, Bowman said all consumers should be cognizant of CDC and FDA announcements and stay informed about specific outbreaks that are causing people to become sick.
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