Romaine lettuce recalled due to E. coli outbreak

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Romaine lettuce recalled due to E. coli outbreak

Kylee B. '21, Writer

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Consumers go to order their favorite salad at Panera or stock up on lettuce to make a salad for dinner, but all romaine lettuce is nowhere to be found. On Nov. 17, romaine lettuce was swept off grocery store shelves and taken out of all restaurants. The product was found to have traces of E. coli, which can cause vomiting, fever and severe abdominal pain, along with other symptoms.

More recently, the FDA was able to link the E. coli outbreak to lettuce growing in California, and measures are being taken to stop this epidemic, according to USA Today. As of Nov. 27, certain romaine lettuce is now safe to eat.  However, consumers have been warned not to eat lettuce from the California counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura.

The cause of the outbreak came specifically from the Central Coast of California as mentioned. The lettuce grows there in summer, but the epidemic is related to the end of the season harvest. E. coli is usually found in animal innards, meaning the lettuce was exposed to animal intestines or feces of some sort.

The lettuce has made a total of 43 people sick across 12 different states and another 22 people in Canada as well. However, the FDA reassured the contaminated products are most likely gone from stores as of Nov. 27.

“After the outbreak happened, I had to incorporate different types of lettuce into my diet, because I am so used to eating romaine lettuce. I noticed that Bibibop and Chipotle were not serving lettuce as options as they normally do,” Emily H. ‘19 said.

Another aspect affected by the E. coli outbreak was restaurants, specifically ones who base their menu off of salad. Although restaurants can switch out romaine lettuce with other types of lettuces, the price change has caused the most trouble. Since the E. coli outbreak, lettuce prices have swelled drastically. A carton of iceberg lettuce was worth $60 wholesale the week of, Nov. 25-30, up from $24 on Nov. 19, according to Bloomberg.com.

“This has affected Kroger’s produce section a lot. Most of the salads that are present in Kroger are romaine lettuce based; however the one’s that are carried out now are iceberg lettuce. We always want our customers to feel comfortable with the produce they are consuming,”  Kroger employee Brooklyn F. ‘21 said.

Romaine lettuce was set to be placed back on grocery store shelves by Dec. 4. Customers will be able to purchase the vegetable again, except for Californians. There are measures being taken to make sure another E. coli outbreak of this sort will not happen again in the future. In the meantime, the CDC warns consumers to always check bag labels to see where the product was grown and be informed about the product before eating it.