Nov 21, 2018Groups react to E. coli related to romaine lettuce reports
Specialty crop organizations are responding to the outbreak of E. coli reports involving romaine lettuce.
Western Growers‘ statement:
“In response to the recent food safety alert issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration linking an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 to romaine lettuce, Western Growers President & CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:
“Our hearts go out to individuals and families impacted by the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine, and our romaine growers and handlers are cooperating fully with federal and state health agencies to identify the source of the contamination. California and Arizona growers place the safety of their produce above all else, and growers and handlers of romaine lettuce in these two states are governed by the most stringent food safety requirements anywhere in the country.
“In the meantime, it is important to acknowledge that a number of regions in current production were not harvesting or shipping romaine at the onset of the outbreak and, consequently, could not be the source of the specific E. coli strain identified in the illnesses. In light of this evidence, we urge the government’s health agencies to work with stakeholders to quickly narrow the scope of the investigation, and to remove these regions from the comprehensive advisory as soon as the safety of the public can be ensured.”
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association response:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are advising consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce because it may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick.
No grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified.
The FDA is conducting a traceback investigation, and the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association strongly urges the agency to determine the source of the contamination as quickly as possible.
South Florida’s romaine harvest season starts in early November, so Florida product was not being harvested when people started becoming ill. However, it is unfortunate that anyone has become sick, and we remain concerned for those consumers.
Safe production and handling of crops is the top priority for growers of Florida produce. They adhere to the highest mandatory food safety standards, testing and safeguards to ensure Florida produce is safe. They also open their operations to FDA representatives periodically for inspections.