Operations

Romaine E. coli outbreak spreads to 23 states

Authorities are still looking at possible sources in the Salinas growing area of California.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The E. coli contamination traced to romaine lettuce from Salinas, Calif., has now sickened 102 people in 23 states, according to federal health officials, who acknowledged they are still looking for the exact source.

That effort is now focused on three farms in the Salinas Valley, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in an update issued this week. Samples of soil, animal droppings, compost and water were taken from all three places, but the analysis is not yet complete, the agency said. 

It noted that the California Department of Food and Agriculture and state health agencies are also working to uncover the specific source. Simultaneously, investigators are wading through voluminous distribution records in hopes of pinpointing a supplier or distributor that may be a source, according to the FDA. 

“This remains an evolving and fluid situation,” the agency said.

It is still advising restaurants to discard any lettuce from Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito and Monterey counties. 

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