FDA names farm, narrows scope of romaine outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration named Adam Bros. Farming of Santa Maria, CA, as testing positive for the E. coli strain involved in the romaine outbreak.

In its statement from FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb and FDA deputy commissioner Frank Yiannas, it also narrowed its Dec. 13 consumer warning from to avoid romaine lettuce from Monterey, San Benito and Santa Barbara counties in California.

A separate release from the Centers for Disease Control said romaine labeled with harvest region outside those counties are not involved in the outbreak and presumed to be safe to eat.

These growing areas include “the desert growing region near Yuma, Arizona; the California desert growing region near Imperial County and Riverside County; the state of Florida; and Mexico.”

The FDA said while it identified a positive sample for the outbreak strain in the sediment of a local irrigation reservoir used by Adam Bros., its traceback indicates that romaine shipped from other farms could also likely be implicated in the outbreak.

“The FDA will be sending investigators back to this farm for further sampling,” its statement said. “It’s important to note that although this is an important piece of information, the finding on this farm doesn’t explain all illnesses and our traceback investigation will continue as we narrow down what commonalities this farm may have with other farms that are part of our investigation.”

On Dec. 13, Adam Bros. announced it is recalling red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and cauliflower harvested Nov. 27-30, out of an abundance of caution, because it may be contaminated with the E. coli strain involved in the romaine outbreak.

However, the company notes none of the recalled product has tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, and no illnesses have been reported.

FDA says the investigation continues and has resulted in 59 people becoming ill in 15 states, with the last reported illness onset date of Nov. 16.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services Inc.