Sadly, no one is exactly sure why it seems that romaine lettuce has been involved in repeated outbreaks. I can tell you that no one is more frustrated than the farmers who grow romaine in California. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Salinas area and I met with several lettuce farmers. I saw first-hand how hard they are working to prevent these outbreaks. Everyone involved in this industry is working very hard to resolve this.
There is a very stringent program in place throughout the lettuce growing regions of California and Arizona that requires farmers to follow a set of strict food safety practices. The farms are inspected multiple times by government officials to make sure they’re following these rules. These include things like making sure:
Harvest workers wash their hands and clean their harvest knives with chorine before they touch lettuce in a field;
That the fields are inspected just prior to picking the lettuce to make sure there is no evidence that animals have been in the field.
There are over 160 different food safety “checkpoints” that farmers must follow 100% of the time.
Farmers are thoroughly evaluating and improving their practices to keep people from getting sick.