CDC Warns About Tainted Romaine From Salinas Valley

Nov 22, 2019

No Caesar salad this Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. A warning out Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to avoid eating romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas growing region. 

KAZU's Michelle Loxton spoke with KAZU's Erika Mahoney about the latest information.

Michelle Loxton (ML): What exactly is included in the warning?

Erika Mahoney (EM): The warning is for all types of romaine, including whole heads, hearts of romaine, packages of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes containing romaine -- harvested from the Salinas Valley.

No specific grower, supplier, distributor or brand of romaine has been identified, but the CDC says if you see the word "Salinas" on the package, don't buy it. If you have already bought it, don't eat it and throw it away.

ML: Officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak, who has been sickened?

EM: As of this afternoon, 40 people in 16 states have been infected with a strain of E. coli. Twenty-eight have been hospitalized, eight have suffered a form of kidney failure associated with the disease. No deaths have been reported.

This is the second year in a row that a warning about tainted lettuce has come right before Thanksgiving. 

In Monterey County, the value of romaine lettuce in 2018 was down about $71 million compared to 2017, due in part to last year's CDC warning, according to figures from the latest Monterey County crop report.

The warning grows out of a recall of salad products from a New Jersey company that began Thursday. Missa Bay, LLC is recalling 75,000 pounds of salad because of possible E. coli contamination. A labratory traced that contamination to romaine lettuce in salad that was grown in the Salinas Valley.

E. coli can cause vomiting, diarrhea and high fever and usually begins three to four days after exposure. If you think you may have been exposed, you should see a doctor.

A statement from the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California said farmers, shippers and processors are working to remove all romaine grown in the Salinas region from the market.

This is a developing story.