Federal investigators have identified a Santa Barbara County farm as a culprit with the recent E. coli outbreak but are continuing to warn consumers against eating certain produce from San Benito and Monterey counties as well.
That was the latest update coming from the Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention as of Thursday.
“The strain isolated from this sample matched those collected from ill persons in this outbreak using Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS),” according to an FDA statement. “The FDA is able to confirm that Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. hasn’t shipped any romaine since November 20, 2018. Experts are working with the farm to determine how contamination occurred and what corrective actions need to be taken before their next growing season.”
The FDA goes on to note how how it doesn’t clear San Benito and Monterey counties as of yet, though. San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties have been removed from the list at this time, according to FDA.
“The FDA’s traceback activities of romaine lettuce will continue as FDA works to determine what commonalities this farm may have with other farms and areas that are being assessed as part of the investigation,” according to a statement.
So far, there have been 59 illnesses and 23 hospitalizations in 15 states, including California. The last illness onset was Nov. 16. The feds announced the outbreak on Nov. 20.
The following is the latest recommendation provided by the FDA:
Based on discussions with producers and distributors, romaine lettuce entering the market will now be voluntarily labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date or labeled as being hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown. If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.
If romaine lettuce does have this labeling information, we advise avoiding any product from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California. Romaine lettuce from outside those counties need not be avoided. Consumers may notice that romaine lettuce is beginning to be available in stores with new labeling. Additionally, romaine from Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz counties harvested after November 23, 2018 should be labeled with harvest area and harvest date, allowing it to be distinguished from romaine lettuce that should be avoided.
Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.