May 28, 2024

FDA Names California Counties Where Contaminated Romaine Was Grown

The FDA has updated its investigation into the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. They have now named the California counties where they believe the lettuce was grown. Remember, most of the patients in this outbreak live in California.

Romaine Lettuce California Counties E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

The specific California counties include Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura. More counties may be added to this list as the FDA traceback develops. Romaine lettuce that was harvested from locations outside of the specific California regions identified, along with lettuce that is grown hydroponically and in greenhouses.

The FDA lifted its recommendation the consumers avoid all romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce harvested from areas such as the Yuma growing region in Arizona, the California desert growing region near Imperial County and Riverside County, the state of Florida, and Mexico do not appear to be involved in this specific outbreak.

Growers and packers are going to start labeling romaine lettuce with its source, but that is going to take some time. Until you see labels on romaine, stating where it was grown, don’t eat or use it. Hopefully the labeling will be specific enough to include the California counties and other areas that the FDA deems safe.

The outbreak case count remains at 43, with 16 hospitalizations and one case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. The last update into the case count occurred several days ago.

The bacteria causing these illnesses, along with 22 illnesses in Canada, is similar to the bacteria that is associated with a previous outbreak from 2017. That outbreak was linked to leafy greens in the U.S., and to romaine lettuce in California. Romaine lettuce is the “suspected vehicle” in this 2018 outbreak in both countries. There is no genetic link between this outbreak and the outbreak linked to romaine lettuce that occurred in early 2018.

A specific farm, processor, or brand of romaine lettuce has not been identified yet. The United Fresh Produce Association and the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement issued statements committing to withdrawing romaine from the market when the outbreak was first announced on November 20, 2018.



  1. How is Ecoli getting on the Romane lettuce? What is source of E. coli ? Or are we to believe it lives in ground?

    • Linda Larsen says

      There are many ways leafy greens can be contaminated. It could be from animals pooping in the fields. The bacteria can be in runoff from cattle ranches nearby. It could be in irrigation water, or water used to dilute pesticides. And yes, the bacteria is also in the ground. Leafy greens and E. coli is a combination with a long history.

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