( FDA )

The Food and Drug Administration’s investigation into an E. coli outbreak has identified numerous potential sources of the pathogen, suggesting no single farm, processor or distributor is involved.

But investigators who have been inspecting California farms and lettuce facilities for almost two weeks have yet to find E. coli in sample testing.

The FDA released an update on its investigation Dec. 6, stating that traceback information from four restaurants in three states has “implicated 10 different distributors, 12 different growers and 11 different farms as potential sources of the contaminated lettuce. The information indicates that the outbreak cannot be explained by a single farm, grower, harvester, or distributor.”

Those apparently have all been traced back to the six Central Coast of California counties the FDA has identified as the most likely origin of the romaine. According to the update, information collected up to Dec. 6 indicates the romaine likely came from an area that includes Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties.

The FDA is using shipping records and invoices to trace the romaine, aided by its Produce Safety Network, which includes personnel from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, who provide region-specific expertise on produce safety policy and science, along with others from the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, who specialize in safety inspections and investigations.

The FDA announced the outbreak on Nov. 20, the same day it and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued advisories that removed romaine from the commerce stream. On Nov. 23, the FDA, the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Food and Agriculture began inspecting California farms and lettuce cooling facilities that were identified in tracebacks in the U.S. and Canada.

“The investigation teams have been collecting romaine lettuce, soil, water, and scat samples,” according to the Dec 6 notice. “To date, E. coli O157:H7 has not been found in any of the lettuce, soil or scat samples. Results of water testing being conducted by CDC are pending.”

The FDA reiterated that romaine grown outside of the six California counties is safe to eat.

Submitted by Jim on Fri, 12/07/2018 - 06:48

Why in the world did the Packer publish this article????? We want news! We want information! We want sources! We want answers! We don’t need or want the same bullshit information we’ve been given all along! Get on your game Packer!

Submitted by Chris Koger on Fri, 12/07/2018 - 08:12

And what answers would those be, Jim? The names of all the growers/farms/etc. that had the tainted lettuce? If the FDA has yet to find the source, The Packer and other media certainly don't have the tools to find it. 

But we'll report on it when/if they do. 

Chris Koger

News Editor


In reply to by Jim (not verified)

Submitted by Charles Rattenberg on Fri, 12/07/2018 - 10:10

Why would they use the word "implicate" when they clearly have not established that these companies are culpable? None of the companies that are being investigated have been found to be guilty of anything as of this time.

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 12/07/2018 - 15:43

Yes, 6 different counties, 12 different growers, and 11 different farms all had the exact same E. coli contamination at the exact same time. Highly unlikely. Maybe look at something those all had in common, like maybe the same transportation company. I've seen firsthand, trucks back into a door with chicken feathers and blood on the floor. What about the distribution centers for these restaurants?

Submitted by Jim Gross on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:22

What are the growers doing to identify or label products at the retail level to improve customer confidence? How is Produce Tractability (PTI) working or not working to identify growers with and without E. coli O157:H7?

Submitted by Marc Cambon on Fri, 12/14/2018 - 15:36

Unable to read the harvest date on tiny label, not much info on producer(none) or place of origin; how can consumers decide? or does any concerned want consumers to be able to decide? tractability OMG? that'll be the day!!