In a previous press release on November 22, the Inspectorate of Public Health, Social Development and Labor informed the public of Romaine lettuce originating from the United States due to potential contamination with the E coli bacteria. This romaine lettuce is available in most supermarkets and restaurants on the island.
In addition, the Inspectorate also advised the public not to consume and discard of already purchased Romaine Lettuce. Drawers or shelves in the refrigerator where the lettuce was stored should be washed and sanitized. Restaurants were strongly advised not to serve any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing Romaine.
The Inspectorate received an update from the FDA on November 26 providing the following information:
The FDA requested that all romaine lettuce on the market, including in restaurants and other commercial establishments, should be withdrawn and destroyed. The FDA believes it was critically important to have a “clean break” in the romaine supply available to consumers in the U.S. in order to purge the market of potentially contaminated romaine lettuce related to the current outbreak.
This outbreak is continued to be investigated. The investigation at this point suggests that Romaine lettuce associated with the outbreak comes from areas of California that grow romaine lettuce over the summer months, and that the outbreak appears to be related to “end of season” romaine lettuce harvested from these areas. The involved areas include the Central Coast growing regions of central and northern California.
The FDA is continuing trace backs of romaine lettuce from locations where impacted consumers purchased or consumed romaine lettuce before they became ill in order to identify specific locations that are the likely source of the outbreak and to determine the factors that resulted in contamination.
The FDA is issuing the following updated advice as part of its investigation and public warning:
- Based on discussions with major producers and distributors, romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date. Romaine lettuce entering the market can also be labeled as being hydroponically or greenhouse grown. If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.
- If consumers, retailers, and food service facilities are unable to identify that romaine lettuce products are not affected – which means determining that the products were grown outside the California regions that appear to be implicated in the current outbreak investigation — we urge that these products not be purchased, or if purchased, be discarded or returned to the place of purchase. Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central 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.
The Inspectorate remains in close contact with the FDA and USDA. Importers and re-sellers are informed and the necessary spot checks are performed.