FDA, CDC, and state health authorities are investigating an outbreak of illnesses caused by E. coli in the U.S. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, Calif., growing region is a likely source of this outbreak. According to the CDC, there have been 102 cases of illness reported in 23 states.
Based on available traceback data, FDA requested that industry voluntarily withdraw romaine grown in Salinas from the market and is requesting that industry withhold distribution of Salinas romaine for the remainder of the growing season in Salinas.
Products that were part of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced recall related to this outbreak investigation had a “best by” date of November 1, 2019 or earlier, more than one month ago, and should no longer be on the market.
The FDA and state partners are conducting a traceback investigation to determine whether a common supplier or source of contamination can be identified. This investigation involves collecting and analyzing potentially hundreds of distribution records to trace the romaine that may have been available at points of exposure reported by ill people to their source.
The Salinas region, as defined by the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association Romaine Taskforce Report [PDF], includes the California counties of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito, and Monterey.