E. Coli Crisis Linked to Romaine Lettuce


Romaine lettuce tainted with E. coli bacteria. Photo credits: Cal Coast News

Jasmeen Rivera, Reporter

An E. coli outbreak has spread wildly among multiple states, leaving 43 people ill, romaine lettuce being the prime suspect. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last Monday that the eruption of the bacterium is associated with California’s “end of season” harvest. The agency has stated that romaine lettuce anywhere not from California’s Central Coast region will be labeled with the products harvest date and region. Any produce without a label is advised to not be consumed. Romaine growing in the winter seasons of Arizona, Florida, and Mexico have been cleared for consumption; however, many stores and restaurants including Publix, Walmart, McDonald’s, and Chipotle have all ordered a recall.

Though investigations are still ongoing to track the causing strand of the outbreak, many are saying that the crisis could have been prevented if the Trump administration hadn’t delayed an important FDA “water-testing requirements for produce growers¬†created when Obama was still in office. “The rules, which should have gone into effect earlier this year,” stated¬†People, “require farmers to regularly test their irrigation water, which often gets polluted from fecal runoff from livestock or wildlife waste, causing the growth of pathogens such as E. coli.” The FDA has shown no response to bringing back these regulations. In fact, the agency has considered letting growers test their waters less frequently to avoid safety hazards to their crops.

“Like so many deadly food contamination outbreaks, this one points up the need for stronger safeguards– not less,” states Eric Olson, the senior director of health and food for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The FDA warns the public to stay away from any products containing romaine lettuce until all of the produce is confirmed safe to eat.