San Benito County responded to the news that broke Tuesday about an E. coli outbreak connected to romaine lettuce.
The Federal Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention alerted people nationwide to dispose of all romaine lettuce in light of the outbreak. It’s possible the outbreak originated in the Central Coast region and brings up memories of the 2006 outbreak connected to San Benito County.
According to a statement released by San Benito County Agriculture Commissioner Karen Overstreet Wednesday:
“Romaine is a very important crop for San Benito County and ranks number four in overall production. Our growers produce approximately 50,000 tons each year. Food safety is our top priority and we work diligently to insure the highest quality of food comes from San Benito County. At this point the source of this E.coli outbreak is still unknown however we are monitoring the CDC investigation closely and will provide updates should they become available.”
In San Benito County’s most recently published crop report from 2016, romaine lettuce was the third most valued indivdual crop at $32.9 million that year. A category for “miscellaneous” row crops ranked first, followed by lettuce salad, peppers and then romaine lettuce.
According to a statement from the CDC released Tuesday:
CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.
- Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.
- This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.
- If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
- Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
- Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.
- Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:
- Talk to your healthcare provider.
- Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
- Report your illness to the health department.
- Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.
Advice to Clinicians
- Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with E. coli O157 infections. Antibiotics are also not recommended for patients in whom E.coli O157 infection is suspected, until diagnostic testing rules out this infection.
- Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli O157 infections might increase their risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (a type of kidney failure), and the benefit of antibiotic treatment has not been clearly demonstrated.