Should I avoid eating romaine or other lettuces?


I continue to recommend that people eat lettuce and leafy greens of all kinds.

People should definitely follow the advice of the government right now and not eat romaine lettuce from Salinas.  The good news is lettuce growers, grocery stores, restaurants and government agencies have all acted quickly to get rid of the suspected product so more people don’t get sick.

My registered dietitian colleagues and I are concerned that the overwhelming media coverage of these outbreaks may have a negative impact on people’s health because it can scare them away from eating lettuce. Leafy greens are nutrient-rich. They supply fiber, vitamins A and K, and folic acid, plus the minerals, potassium, iron, calcium yet they’re low in fat and calories. They’re an easy and tasty way for folks to get more vegetables in their meals, a food group most Americans are not eating enough of.

I think what everyone needs to keep in mind is that – even though our food supply is the safest in the world, occasionally an outbreak of food-borne illness does occur. Farmers are doing everything they can to protect consumers and they’re working very hard to improve their safety record. In fact, I recently learned that California and Arizona famers harvest an average of 130 million servings of lettuce and leafy greens every day. Fortunately, outbreaks are by far the exception and not the rule.

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