Recently and for the second time this year, E. coli was in the news and linked to my favorite, Romaine lettuce. The growers in Imperial Valley take food safety seriously and these two events in one year hurt the industry. While neither of the outbreaks were linked to our growing area, the impact to our farm workers, our farmers and the local economy is painful.
We would like to use the story to educate the public about foodborne outbreaks and those related to E. coli in particular. Let’s start with the definition of an “outbreak.” When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne disease outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control started tracking multistate foodborne outbreak investigations involving E. coli in 2006. For a complete listing of reported outbreaks, please use the Foodborne Outbreak Online Database tool.