By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Writer
Romaine lettuce grown in northern and central California, including romaine harvested in Santa Barbara County, remains unsafe to eat and potentially contaminated with E. coli, according to Santa Barbara County health officials.
The warning issued Tuesday by the county Public Health Department said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that people not eat, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell, any romaine lettuce harvested from certain parts of California due to the E. coli bacteria outbreak that is under ongoing investigation.
“It is important to note that romaine lettuce labeled with a harvest region outside of the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California is not linked to this outbreak,” the news release said. “If you do not know where your romaine lettuce was harvested, do not eat it, sell it, or serve it; you are advised to throw it away.”
The CDC suggests consumers, restaurants and retailers check bags or boxes of romaine lettuce for a label indicating where the lettuce was harvested.
The warning applies to all types of romaine lettuce, including romaine heads, romaine hearts, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, according to health officials.
The warning includes advice to “wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored.”
The CDC reported that 43 people in 12 states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. Of those, 11 cases were in California.
Sixteen people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.
As of Tuesday, there have been no cases associated with this strain reported in Santa Barbara County, according to health officials.
Illnesses in the outbreak were reported bewteen Oct. 8 and Oct. 31.
According to the county Agricultural Production Report, the county harvested more than 9,300 acres of lettuce heads in 2017. The county harvested more than 4,400 acres of leaf lettuce last year.