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.