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FDA says it's OK to eat romaine lettuce again -- but not from these California counties  2 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

It looks like it's OK to indulge in romaine lettuce again – from most everywhere. But if you don't know where the leaves are from, you might want to pass.

The strain of E. coli that caused the November romaine lettuce outbreak has been traced to a farm in Santa Maria, California, but other sources are likely coming, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.

A sample from the sediment of a local irrigation reservoir used by a single farm, owned and operated by Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Maria, tested positive for the particular type of E. coli. The FDA, which is using Whole Genome Sequencing analysis, said it plans to send investigators back to the farm for further sampling.

The company declined to comment Thursday.

The federal government's warning that consumers avoid romaine lettuce grown in California's Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties has been amended. Romaine lettuce fans may go back to eating greens from San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties, if it was harvested after Nov. 23. Also OK are romaine grown hydroponically and in greenhouses.

Anyone unable to confirm their lettuce is from unaffected sources should not eat those greens, the FDA advised.

However, other farms may be implicated, too. 

Federal investigators said records from five restaurants in four states have identified 11 distributors, nine growers and eight farms as potential sources of contaminated romaine lettuce.

"Currently, no single establishment is in common across the investigated supply chains," the FDA said in a statement. "This indicates that although we have identified a positive sample from one farm to date, the outbreak may not be explained by a single farm, grower, harvester or distributor."

The FDA said Santa Monica County-based Adams Bros. Farms is cooperating and discussing what corrective actions need to be taken before the next growing season. No romaine lettuce has been shipped since Nov. 20, and the company agreed to recall products that may have come into contact with the reservoir.

To date, 59 people in 15 states have gotten sick from romaine lettuce tainted in this E. coli outbreak, according to the FDA. The last reported illness onset date was Nov. 16.

The FDA applauded lettuce growers in California and Arizona for starting to label their lettuce with the places where it's from.

The government first alerted the U.S. public of the problem on Nov. 20.

Another contaminated romaine lettuce outbreak stopped Americans cold this past spring and summer. That strain of E. coli was different and was ultimately traced to the Yuma, Arizona, growing area. In that outbreak, 210 people got sick and five died, according to the FDA.

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