The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that efforts are underway to remove romaine lettuce from California from the supply chain, as they believe an E.coli outbreak likely originated from the Golden State.
In a series of tweets, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the goal afterwards is to restock the market with untainted produce from different growing regions.
“UPDATE ON OUTBREAK: The romaine implicated in the current outbreak is likely from California based on growing and harvesting patterns,” t said. “The goal now is to withdraw the product that’s at risk of being contaminated from the market, and then re-stock the market.”
“New romaine from different growing regions, including Florida and Arizona, will soon be harvested. We’re working with growers and distributors on labeling produce for location and harvest date and possibly other ways of informing consumers that the product is ‘post-purge,'” he added. “We want to help unaffected growers get back into production and enable stores and consumers to re-stock.”
The FDA issued a pre-Thanksgiving warning earlier this week about romaine lettuce out of an abundance of caution, because the strain that’s circulating can lead to kidney failure.
The agency said at least 32 people had gotten sick in 11 states, including California, in cases believed to be tied to tainted romaine.
Not every romaine lettuce head is infected, but the FDA has warned the public not to eat any of it. Grocery stores had been advised to pull products from shelves, and restaurants are urged not to serve it.
Gottlieb said the government is working on long-term solutions to shield unaffected growing regions from being impacted during future outbreaks.
“One goal we’re seeking is to make this type of labeling the new standard rather than a short-term fix; as a way to improve identification and traceability in the system,” Gottlieb said.