Recently we heard the news that America is going through a massive food poisoning outbreak that affects a lot of states. E. coli, in particular, is affecting 11 states with 35 reported cases so far and very similar salmonella symptoms have been seen in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
For the salmonella outbreak, more than 200 million eggs, produced by an Indiana company were recalled over the weekend, after the cases were linked back to the company’s produce. According to a report from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Rose Acre Farms were forced to issue the recall after officials traced these cases back to the company’s facility in North Carolina.
Affected eggs were sold under multiple brand names, including Country Daybreak, Coburn Farms, Crystal Farms, Sunshine Farms, and Glenview. These eggs found their way into homes from all sorts of places, as these brands are sold in a multitude of locations.
The E. coli outbreak has hospitalized 22 people, luckily no deaths have been reported.
For the E. coli epidemic, the Centres for Diease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement advising consumers to check the origin of their romaine lettuce before they purchase. Since the outbreak was potentially linked to lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, the CDC says only lettuce from these regions should be avoided.
The CDC also recommends that if consumers have already purchased bagged or chopped lettuce, it should be thrown away immediately. Consumer Reports’ advice goes even further than the CDC’s — they recommend consumers avoid buying and eating romaine lettuce entirely, at least until the outbreak is over.
“Consumer Reports’ experts believe that it could be difficult for consumers to determine where the romaine they purchase is from, which is why they believe it’s best to avoid the lettuce altogether,” Consumer Reports said in a recent post.
The CDC also points out that there, “are still several unknowns about this outbreak, and that no type of romaine has been ruled definitively safe by government officials.” Dr Laura Gieraltowski leads the Foodborne Outbreak Response Team at the CDC and she predicts there will be more reports of illness in the weeks ahead. Contamination and illnesses that began on or after March 27 may not have been counted yet.
As well as supermarket lettuce, leafage from restaurants are suspected to be affected too – for both bagged and pre-chopped types. Some reported illnesses occurred after consumers ate lettuce from casual restaurants. The likes of Chipotle and Just Salad are suspected to play a big (albeit involuntary) role. Whether they continue to use and serve romaine lettuce in their meals is up in the air for time being (it’s probably in Chipotle’s best interest to not to, after all their PR nightmares).
“We have continued to serve romaine lettuce, but we do not use the pre-cut, bagged romaine that is at the center of this investigation,” Chris Arnold, representative for Chipotle, said to The Daily Meal. “Neither Chipotle nor our produce suppliers have been contacted regarding any connection to this issue.” Just Salad has similar assurances. When more information is known, the public will quickly be informed.