It was as early as 2016 when people started falling ill because of Listeria found in romaine lettuce. Later E. coli would be found in that very same lettuce. It wouldn’t be until 2018 that panic, because of mass illnesses and death, would reach massive proportions, and the product would be recalled across the board.
But what now? We’re in 2022. What’s the deal with romaine lettuce? Is It safe or not?
According to a report from foodsafetynews.com, people were still falling ill as of March of 2022 and one person died because of the Listeria issue. Amazingly though, those numbers justified the CDC in saying that Romaine Lettuce was in fact now safe to eat! Really? Ten people still fell ill and one died for crying out loud!
"As per CDC: “The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not have been limited to the states with known illnesses…This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria.”(link above)"
What we know about romaine lettuce and its safety
The 2021 outbreak was specifically attributed to the Fresh Express Company, who packaged and sold Romaine Lettuce Hearts.
"CDC: “On December 16, 2021, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development identified the outbreak strain of Listeria in a bag of Fresh Express Sweet Hearts Romaine Lettuce Sweet Butter Lettuce packaged salad collected from a grocery store during routine sampling…The packaged salad was produced at the Fresh Express facility in Streamwood, Illinois.”"
According to the above report, Listeria can survive well in cold and even freezing temperatures, and for quite some time.
According to health.ny.gov, Listeriosis is defined as follows: “Listeriosis is an infection caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. People become infected by eating foods contaminated with the bacteria. Listeria may infect many different sites in the body, such as the brain, spinal cord membranes, or the bloodstream.”
And it was back in 2018 that it had been discovered that E. coli was found in particular lettuces…by that year a whopping 22 outbreak cases were being investigated, according to legacycommunityhealth.org.
E. coli is formed in the intestines of farm animals, and while the animals are safe, the areas in which they roam—lettuce farms and produce farms—are often contaminated by them for obvious reasons. This is how simple it is to transfer such a disease onto humans, and why this is so dangerous…it’s easy and even unavoidable.
But there have been other recalls as well over the years: Cucumber…iceberg lettuce…heck even Duncan Hines cakes! Imagine getting a disease such as this one and all from a piece of cake and a cup of coffee! It’s that easy dear readers.
For the longest time all Arizona-based products were said to be the worst and Andy Boy has a statement on their Facebook page that specifically states: “All of our romaine lettuce and romaine hearts are harvested in the Salinas Valley in California. We do not have any products in the marketplace from Arizona.”
But, it was just in 2020 that the FDA pinpointed a specific grower in Salinas as the source for a major outbreak but didn’t name that grower, as per consumerreports.org.
Believe it or not, even then, the CDC was saying some brands of romaine lettuce were safe to eat but apparently not all brands were safe. How confusing can it get? And can you trust that? So much to look at here. Some grocery stores cut corners—perhaps primarily your run of the mill mom and pop locations. They often look for the cheapest price on produce and anything they sell, so can you really be sitting at your computer checking all the brand names of lettuces and what have you, before going shopping, or even checking on your phone at the store? You’ll never leave! Shopping takes forever already.
Is it better to just avoid?
Well, if we look at the facts: The CDC said in 2020 that the outbreak in terms of the E. coli issue was over and it was safe to eat, but if we remember above, deaths and illnesses still occur when the CDC says this, and lo and behold in 2020 cases started going back up again.
The big lesson here is don’t listen to the CDC, or at least take what they’re saying with a grain of salt. We can all attest to that seeing how many mistakes they made during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic…or rather the misinformation they doled out.
Back to the romaine lettuce issue, the staggering rise in cases is best shown here at consumerreports.org (link above), showing the rise in cases since 2019 when the CDC stated, or just after they stated rather, that the outbreak was over.
Like with anything else, the numbers are always changing dear reader, so in the end, the conclusion I’ve come to, is you can’t really put your family’s health in the hands of the FDA, the CDC, the WHO in Canada, the growers themselves, nor the distributors.
And after taking a deeper look into this and doing the research, I’d say steer clear of Romaine Lettuce. It’s sad to say, especially for the farmers that have been growing it for years, but this seems to be a product that has suffered greatly, but it can happen to anything out there.
If something doesn’t change in the archaic farming methods used to grow these products then this will keep happening, folks. It’s as simple as that. As is stated at robertglennon.net, “The system is not and never will be perfect…” So my advice is stay away from it and stay safe, folks. Also…keep updated on what’s going on with food and produce. Those aforementioned ten minutes on your computer every day can save yours and your family’s lives.
Any tips or updates on any other issues with produce you may have heard? Let us know?