FAQs on Romaine Lettuce
FAQs on Romaine Lettuce (Updated May 22, 2018)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has discontinued its advisory for consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma region because It is unlikely this lettuce is still available in stores or restaurants. Below is some updated information to assist consumers in making purchase decisions.
Is it safe to buy romaine lettuce?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018 and the harvest season is over. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in stores or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life. Nearly all romaine currently available in stores and restaurants is from the central coast growing region of California near the cities of Salinas, Santa Maria and Oxnard. No illnesses have been linked to romaine grown in the coastal regions of California. As is always the case, leafy greens producers now harvesting in the coastal region of California are subject to mandatory government audits conducted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to verify that science-based food safety practices are being followed on leafy greens farms.
Why are more people becoming ill in this outbreak?
Public health agencies continue to investigate and learn more about this outbreak. As information comes into county health departments around the country, investigators are continuing to find more people who are linked to this outbreak through a common pathogen. This doesn’t mean that people are continuing to get sick. Investigators are simply learning about additional people who became ill weeks ago. Government investigators will continue to monitor illness dates for clues to help them understand more about this outbreak, what caused it and when it can be declared over.
Why haven’t government agencies declared this outbreak over and why are consumer advisories still in place?
Public health agencies are responsible for assuring the safety of our food supply. Until they can be absolutely certain there is no chance people could still be sickened by the romaine responsible for this outbreak, the government will continue to update consumers and provide advisories as needed.
What is being done by leafy greens producers to make sure outbreaks like this don’t happen again?
Those impacted by this outbreak remain in our thoughts. Our members who grow leafy greens are committed to doing everything possible to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. The leafy greens community in Arizona and California are committed to working with the government to learn how romaine lettuce came to be responsible for this outbreak and what can be done to prevent future outbreaks.
The LGMA’s food safety program is one of the most rigorous in today’s produce industry. The program includes mandatory government audits to verify a set of science-based food safety practices are being followed on leafy greens farms. Every day, over 130 million servings of leafy greens are safely produced under the LGMA system in Arizona and California. We are always striving to make improvements to this system.
Consumers should know that companies who are part of the LGMA are required to be in 100 percent compliance with required food safety practices. Every LGMA member and their operations are inspected by government auditors, who verify more than 150 food safety checkpoints. These audits take place about 5 times per year for every LGMA member company.