The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that the ongoing E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas Valley has put a total of 58 people in the hospital.
The agency’s update on the outbreak, which showed up nearly a year to the day after another romaine-linked E. coli outbreak, revealed that 102 have now been sickened in 23 states. Of the 58 hospitalized – 10 people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.
The FDA had first warned consumers on Nov. 22 not to eat romaine grown in California’s Salinas Valley, known as “The Salad Bowl of the World,” and also not eat any romaine that is not specifically labeled as being grown outside of the Salinas Valley or does not shown being hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown.
“For consumers ordering salad containing romaine at a restaurant or at a salad bar should ask the staff whether the romaine came from Salinas,” the agency said. “If it did, or they do not know, do not eat it.”
The USDA also warned consumers against eating any wraps, sandwiches, prepackaged salad, salad kits, or other product containing romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas Valley region. Missa Bay LLC has recalled more than 75,000 pounds of salad products after the Maryland Department of Health identified E. coli O157:H7 in an unopened package of Ready Pac Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad.
The Salinas Valley region includes Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito, and Monterey counties.
The FDA said it deployed investigators to three Salinas Valley farms that were identified based on traceback investigations and sampled soil and animal droppings, compost, water, and other potential environmental sources.
The samples and information collected during the farm investigations are currently being analyzed. At this time, “no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified,” the FDA said.
The agency said it has asked industry to stop distributing Salinas romaine for the remainder of the growing season in Salinas.
“Without more specific traceback information, this was the most efficient way to ensure that contaminated romaine was off the market,” the agency said.