A California farm has been linked to the latest E. coli outbreak. Here's what that means for your salad.
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Raise your hand if you're confused about romaine lettuce. The salad staple has faced several recalls due to E. coli contamination this year. The latest one, which hit just before Thanksgiving, left us scrambling to find other options for our Thanksgiving table, wondering if it would ever be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, and asking what exactly is going on with greens? Here's what we now know.

Is it Safe to Eat Romaine Lettuce?

If you've been missing your romaine, the Centers for Disease control has some good, albeit cautionary news. According to the CDC it is safe to eat romaine lettuce if it is labeled as harvested after November 23 and grown outside of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California. This applies to all types of romaine lettuce including whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, pre-cut lettuce, and salad mixes that contain romaine. If the romaine lettuce is not labelled or you don't know where it is from, err on the safe side and don't eat it.

What Caused the Latest E. Coli Outbreak?

The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, recently linked at least part of the current outbreak of E. coli to romaine lettuce from Adam Bros. Family Farms in Santa Barbara County, California. Sediment from a reservoir on the farm tested positive for the strain of E. coli O157:H7 that according to CNN, was an almost identical genetic match to the strain found in some of the people who became ill.

On Friday, December 14, citing an abundance of caution after the sediment tested positive, Adam Bros. Family Farms issued a recall for red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and cauliflower harvested between November 27-30, 2018. Those products may also have come into contact with water from the reservoir. A full list of the products and labels is available in a statement from Adam Bros. Family Farms and consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-805-925-0339.

Is it over yet?

Not quite: While the FDA and the CDC seem confident that the outbreak is coming under control FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas said in a statement that the finding on the farm doesn't explain all the illnesses. To date, 59 people from 15 states and the District of Columbia have become ill, and 23 people have been hospitalized. The FDA believes that there may be nine different growers and eight different farms within Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties, that are the source of the E. coli romaine lettuce.

What are the signs and symptoms of E. Coli ?

E. Coli is a fairly common foodborne illness but in rare cases it can be deadly. Signs of an E. coli infection, include G.I. issues such as stomach cramps, vomiting, and often bloody diarrhea. Most people will begin to feel ill within 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains E. coli, but symptoms can occur anywhere from 1 to 10 days.While most people will recover on their own within 5 to 7 days, the CDC is asking anyone that suspects they have an E. coli infection to talk to their healthcare provider, write down what they ate in the week before they began to feel ill, and report the illness to a public health department.

It Seems Like There Are A lot of These Recalls, What's Going On?

To date, there have been 24 foodborne illness outbreaks investigated by the CDC this year. That's more than any other in the past 12 years, but that doesn't mean our food is unsafe according to Gottlieb.

"I think food is more safe now than it's ever been. We have much more resources and additional tools to do effective surveillance." Gottlieb told CNN.


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