The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating whether romaine lettuce recalled voluntarily by Tanimura & Antle, a Salinas, Calif.-based produce company, is linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in six states.
According to CDC, a dozen people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli have been reported, with five hospitalizations and no deaths. While genome sequencing revealed a sample of romaine lettuce recalled from the company was the same as the strain identified among those getting sick, a spokesperson from CDC says that the data alone is not enough to prove a link in the outbreak back to Tanimura & Antle.
“There is not enough epidemiologic and traceback information available at this time to determine if ill people got sick from eating Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce,” the spokesperson says. “The investigation is ongoing to determine if additional products may be contaminated with the outbreak strain of E. coli.”
The packages with alleged possible contamination contain a single head of romaine lettuce with the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9. These have a packed-on date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020. The problem was discovered after a random sample collected and analyzed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development showed a positive test result for E. coli.
The recall is being conducted in consultation with FDA, which announced that a total of 3,396 cartons of potentially affected product were distributed in the U.S., including in Arkansas, Oregon, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Puerto Rico.
“It is unlikely that this product remains at retail establishments due to the shelf life of lettuce and the number of days that have passed,” according to a statement released by Tanimura & Antle.