Updated April 20, 2018
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just issued an update regarding the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona region.
The agency has expanded its advice to the public to now avoid ALL romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona region. The CDC advisory now includes whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce; previously, they had identified only chopped, bagged romaine lettuce from the area. At this time, CDC reports there are 53 cases in 16 states, with 31 hospitalized and no deaths.
CDC updated its advice as a result of new information gained during its investigation; the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reports that a correctional facility in that state received whole head romaine grown in the Yuma area.
It is important to know that romaine sourced from coastal and central California, Florida, and central Mexico are not part of the current extended consumer alert.
We have and will continue to offer our food safety expertise and industry knowledge to the agencies, to help them get to the bottom of this problem as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, we continue to keep those impacted by this outbreak in our thoughts. Our consumers’ health and safety are of the utmost importance to the entire fresh produce industry.
Leafy greens food-safety programs in both California and Arizona are the most rigorous in today’s produce industry. Both programs include mandatory farm food safety practices, and frequent government audits to ensure those practices are being followed.
For the latest government information, please visit FDA and CDC websites.
We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.
Updated April 19, 2018
As we work through the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with chopped romaine salad, PMA would like to share with you the latest update from FDA CORE's Angela Fields:
“... there has been an increase in cases in the multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections likely linked to chopped Romaine from the Yuma Growing Region. Both FDA and CDC have updated their web postings with the new case count. There are now 53 cases in 16 states: AK (1), AZ (3), CA (1), CT (2), ID (10), IL (1), LA (1), MI (2), MO (1), MT (6), NJ (7), NY (2), OH (2), PA (12), VA (1), WA (1). There are 31 hospitalizations and five people who have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.”
“FDA is continuing to work with federal, state, and local partners to determine what people ate before they became ill, where they bought and consumed it, and to identify the distribution chain of these foods -- all with the goal of identifying any common food or points in the distribution chain where the food might have become contaminated. FDA is working diligently to understand the traceability systems of those who provided product to the points of service where cases became ill. This is important to do so that we can make linkages further back in the supply chain. As you know, this process is labor and time intensive; however, we stand ready to provide traceback updates as we can. “
CDC predicted last Friday that the case count would increase this week as states have the chance to identify those who are ill and the proper testing can be done to include them in this outbreak. Last Friday the case count was 35 and we now stand at 53. The 16 states reporting illnesses points to the scope of this outbreak. We await any direct convergence to a location in Arizona so that a specific farm or ranch or additional processors can be identified and from that labels and or brands so that the current consumer alert might be withdrawn and replaced by a targeted alert or recall. It should be noted that harvest and shipment of romaine from the Yuma, AZ region have been discontinued according to the Arizona Department of Agriculture and current market needs are being supplied from unaffected areas in California, Florida and Central Mexico.
As FDA CORE provides additional information on their traceback, we will be sure to update you here.
Original Joint Statement - Friday, April 13
U.S. government officials have narrowed their search for the cause of an ongoing multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7-related foodborne illnesses to chopped, bagged romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona region. Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been impacted by this outbreak.
We are cooperating fully with government and working closely to further identify the specific source of this outbreak. Specifically, government officials are advising consumers not to consume chopped, bagged romaine grown in Yuma. At this time, this advisory only applies to chopped, bagged romaine, not other forms of romaine such as whole heads or hearts. This advisory also does not apply to romaine grown elsewhere, including California. Consumers may check with their retailer and/or restaurant to assist them in identifying product origin.
Nearly all of the romaine lettuce now being harvested and shipped throughout the United States is from California growing areas, and is not implicated in the outbreak.
The leafy greens community takes the responsibility for producing fresh produce very seriously. Leafy greens food-safety programs in both California and Arizona are the most rigorous in today’s produce industry. Both programs include mandatory farm food safety practices, and frequent government audits to ensure those practices are being followed.
We will update you as more information becomes available. For the latest government information, please visit FDA and CDC websites.
- Produce Marketing Association
- Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
- California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
- United Fresh
- Western Growers