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E. coli outbreak linked to romaine from Yuma

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has said restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, from the Yuma, AZ, area as it could be contaminated with E. coli.

At this time nearly all of the romaine lettuce being harvested and shipped throughout the United States is from California growing areas and is not implicated in the outbreak.

The CDC is recommeding caution, saying consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. However, the advisory does not apply to romaine grown elsewhere.

"Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ, growing region," the CDC said.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been impacted by this outbreak," United Fresh Produce Association, Arizona and California LGMAs, the Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers said in a statement.

"We are cooperating fully with government and working closely to further identify the specific source of this outbreak," said the industry associations. "Specifically, government officials are advising consumers not to consume chopped, bagged romaine grown in Yuma. At this time, this advisory only applies to chopped, bagged romaine, not other forms of romaine such as whole heads or hearts. This advisory also does not apply to romaine grown elsewhere, including California. Consumers may check with their retailer and/or restaurant to assist them in identifying product origin."

"The leafy greens community takes the responsibility for producing fresh produce very seriously," the associations said in the statement. "Leafy greens food-safety programs in both California and Arizona are the most rigorous in today’s produce industry. Both programs include mandatory farm food-safety practices, and frequent government audits to ensure those practices are being followed."