On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a food safety alert cautioning people against eating any romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California, due to potential E. coli contamination. According to NBC Washington, 67 cases of E. coli have been reported so far, and 39 people have been hospitalized.
The recall applies to any product that contains Salinas-grown romaine lettuce, including whole heads or hearts of romaine, organic or baby romaine, salad wraps with romaine, and packages of pre-cut lettuce or salad mixes with romaine.
In a statement, the CDC explained that most romaine lettuce products name the harvest location on the label, which might be printed on a sticker or directly on the packaging. You should toss all romaine products grown in Salinas, as well as anything that doesn’t specify a harvest location at all. If you’re not sure if there’s romaine in your salad mix or wrap, don’t take the chance—throw it out. However, no cases have been linked to hydroponic or greenhouse-grown romaine, so anything labeled “indoor grown” is technically still safe to eat.
Though the CDC is also advising restaurants and retailers to exercise the same caution and get rid of any romaine that might be from Salinas, it’s best for consumers to look at the labels in stores themselves or double-check with restaurant employees just to make sure.
You should also thoroughly clean and disinfect any parts of your refrigerator where you’ve stored romaine lettuce, to prevent bacteria from hitching a ride on your delicious Thanksgiving leftovers.
And, even if you live several states away from California, there’s still a pretty good chance that Salinas-grown romaine is shipped to your region—the E. coli cases have been reported in 19 states across the country, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The Food and Drug Administration is still investigating the outbreak, but it has been confirmed that this particular strain of bacteria, E. coli O157:H7, is the same one responsible for recalls of leafy greens and romaine lettuce in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
[h/t NBC Washington]