BY GEOFFREY MOHAN
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
Federal health officials are advising consumers to throw away romaine lettuce and salad mixes amid a nationwide outbreak of E. coli infections linked to California’s Salinas Valley.
Forty people in 16 states have been sickened, 28 of them seriously enough to require hospitalization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Nov. 22.
If consumers can’t verify the origin of romaine or mixes containing the variety, they should discard it, the CDC urged. These include whole heads, hearts, precut packaged lettuce and salad mixes, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad, the agency said.
Caesar salad tie
The move comes after Maryland health authorities linked recent illnesses to a Caesar salad mixed distributed by a New Jersey-based food company Missa Bay, LLC, which voluntarily recalled approximately 75,233 pounds of salad products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
“The products identified are already significantly past their use-by dates, so this voluntary recall most likely does not affect any product currently on store shelves. We are working with our retailers to help ensure that this is the case,” the company said in a written statement.
The recall follows a belated announcement last month that 23 people in 12 states were sickened by fecal bacteria traced to romaine lettuce between July and early September.
Last year, five people died and more than 200 were sickened in the worst multistate E. coli outbreak in a decade. The bacteria strain was traced to a cattle feedlot near Yuma, Ariz.
A second outbreak that sickened more than 50 people in multiple states was linked to romaine lettuce from California’s Central Coast. The incidents drew pledges from FDA to more closely monitor produce from the California-Arizona winter growing regions.
Illnesses from the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria generally strike three to four days after contact. Symptoms include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting, according to CDC.
The recalled salad products have “Use By” dates ranging from Oct. 29, 2019, to Nov. 1, 2019, according to CDC, and include the number “EST. 18502B” inside the USDA inspection mark.
A full list of recalled products is available on the USDA website.