Salad enthusiasts skipping on Romaine amid E. coli outbreak

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Consumer Reports is urging people not to eat Romaine Lettuce because 58 people have been hit by E. coli sickness in 13 states, including California. (KGO-TV)

What is a salad eater to do? Romaine lettuce is a staple for Caesar and Greek salads.

RELATED: Throw away your romaine -- deadly E. coli outbreak linked to lettuce

Consumer Reports is urging people not to eat it because 58 people have been hit by E. coli sickness in 13 states, including California.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says five people have needed hospitalization. One person has died in Canada.

California's quasi-government agency that oversees lettuce safety believes there is no concern with the existing supply in stores, restaurants and home refrigerators because the last reported illness was one month ago.

This time of year, California consumers get Romaine lettuce from Imperial County in Southern California and from the area around Yuma, Arizona. The famous salad bowl region around Salinas does not begin harvest of Romaine until late March or April.

Scott Horsfall, who directs the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, says California growers adhere to strict procedures to ensure their lettuce crops are free of contamination.

RELATED: 1 dead, dozens sickened after romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak in U.S.

The growers and processors spend $3 million a year to administer a safety program in which state inspectors are in the fields during harvest.

No recall has been ordered for Romaine lettuce, and according to Harsfall, the industry is cooperating with any investigations of this outbreak.

The inspection program is an outgrowth of a 2006 outbreak of E. coli found in fresh packaged spinach in San Benito County that killed three people and caused 25 others to get sick.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration investigation raised suspicions that the contamination may have come from wild pigs or cattle in the area of the spinach field.

The owner of a San Jose salad restaurant said he is confident of the safety of the Romaine lettuce his customers are eating. It is washed thoroughly before use.

Other consumers we interviewed were unsure what to do; some said they would choose other kinds of lettuce, while others said they would wait for a recall, which has not been issued in the U.S.

Click here to follow David Louie on Twitter.

Click here for more information about the E. coli outbreak.

Click here for a look back at recent recalls.
Related Topics:
foodproduct recallsrecallsalade. coliconsumerconsumer concernshealthSan Jose
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