The Ministry of Health has warned that “consumers not eat and retailers not sell any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, California, USA, growing region”.
This after a romaine lettuce recall was issued by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The ban includes all use-by dates and brands of romaine lettuce from this region and follows an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, linked to consumption of lettuce from that region.
A similar outbreak in November last year, linked to romaine from the US and Canada, led to local distributors ceasing imports until the leafy greens were given the all clear.
Consumers are again warned to exercise maximum caution, with the ministry noting yesterday that some people with E coli infections may get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Consumers should look for a label that indicates where the romaine lettuce was grown, which may be printed on the package or on a sticker on the package, the ministry said.
The ministry also strongly recommends that consumers avoid the produce where the label says “grown in Salinas”—whether alone or with the name of another location—and that any such produce be discarded or returned to the place of purchase.
Do not eat it, the ministry has said, adding: “If the package isn’t labelled with a growing region, don’t eat the lettuce and discard/return to the place of purchase.”
Follow the same instructions to discard or return the produce “if you don’t know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix or wrap contains romaine”.
Also, wash and sanitise drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine lettuce was stored.
“Until clearance is provided by the Ministry of Health, supermarkets, restaurants and wholesalers should not offer for sale, in any form (eg in salads mixes), romaine lettuce which is grown in Salinas, California, or in an unconfirmed location,” the ministry said.
According to US media this week, the CDC has given notice of some 67 cases in 19 states, with 39 of those cases leading to hospitalisations.
No deaths have been reported in the outbreak so far, but six cases have progressed to HUS, which a life-threatening disorder brought on when toxic substances made by an infection destroy red blood cells and damage the kidneys.
Several local groceries told the Express they were not fully stocked with romaine lettuce when the outbreak was announced and that checks were made on current stocks, as they purchase a variety of labels from distributors and losses at this time are expected to be minimal.