Bay Area Ag officials consider possible impacts of E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Bay Area Ag officials consider possible impacts of E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce
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Bay Area ag officials say there could be an impact to sales after the most recent outbreak of E. Coli prompted the CDC to tell people to not eat any romaine.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is advising U.S. consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce in response to a new multi-state outbreak of illnesses caused by a dangerous type of E.coli.

The major outbreak alert comes just two days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

RELATED: CDC to U.S. consumers: Do not eat romaine lettuce

While the source hasn't yet been identified, the CDC is warning consumers to get rid of all romaine lettuce until more details are known about the outbreak.

Of the 32 people infected with the current strain of E. coli bacteria, the CDC found 10 cases right here in California.

Agricultural officials tell ABC7 News the consumer advisory could impact Bay Area business.

Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner, Joe Deviney, told ABC7 News lettuce is the third biggest crop in the county.

All lettuce came in third behind nursery crops and mushrooms, according to the county's 2017 Crop Report.

In 2017, lettuce covered 2,105-acres. Romaine lettuce accounted for more than half, covering 1,367-acres in that same time period.

"We definitely have producers who grow romaine," Deviney said. "So I'm sure that will impact their sales for a little while now."

Ag Commissioner Deviney said there's about $20-million worth of lettuce coming out of southern Santa Clara County.

As the investigation into the source of the outbreak continues, the CDC warns we should simply stay away. This means, refraining from eating or buying any heads or hearts of romaine, salad kits, or classic Caesar salad.

If you think a quick wash will do the trick, Consumer Reports explains that won't work.

"Washing does not remove this bacteria," James E. Rogers, Director of Food Safety Research and Testing for Consumer Reports said. "What it can do is get inside the cells and the layers. So, washing does not do anything at all."

The CDC also suggests that if you aren't sure whether the lettuce you're eating is of the romaine variety, just don't eat it.

Ag Commissioner Deviney agrees, "It's better to be safe than sorry. You don't want to mess around with E. coli, it definitely has some severe impacts."

VIDEO: Here's what you need to know about E. coli