FDA zeros in on source of E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce; more illness reported

By Ashley Welch

/ CBS News

Officials have lifted some of the restrictions on the types of romaine lettuce consumers can safely eat after zeroing in on the source of an E. coli outbreak. The FDA said the problem appears to be coming from lettuce grown in three California counties.

Following a blanket warning by the FDA November 20 not to eat any romaine lettuce, the agency updated its guidance a week later to say consumers should avoid romaine lettuce from California's Central Coast region. Today, the FDA announced it has traced the outbreak to at least one farm in this region.

"We've identified a positive sample result for the outbreak strain in the sediment of a local irrigation reservoir used by a single farm owned and operated by Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Barbara County," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a statement.

In a press briefing Thursday, health officials said other farms are likely involved in the E. coli outbreak and urged consumers to check labels and not eat lettuce harvested in the following counties:

Romaine lettuce harvested outside of these areas after November 23 doesn't appear to be related to the current outbreak, the FDA said.

According to the CDC, 59 people in 15 states have been sickened by the E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce. Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, including two people who developed a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

If consumers are unable to confirm that romaine lettuce products come from unaffected sources, the FDA urges them not to purchase the products. If the items have already been bought, they should be discarded or returned to the place of purchase.

First published on December 13, 2018

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Ashley Welch

Ashley Welch covers health and wellness for CBSNews.com