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Why are there so many romaine outbreaks?

Answer

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.

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