Investigation of E. Coli outbreak in lettuce reveals need for more protections

Media Contacts

Failure to sanitize agricultural water likely cause of contamination

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

PHILADELPHIA –Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its findings on the November 2018 nationwide outbreak of E. Coli in romaine lettuce. The ensuing recall warned the public not to eat any romaine lettuce and prompted stores to remove all of that lettuce from their shelves.

In response, U.S. PIRG Consumer Watchdog Adam Garber released the following statement:

The FDA investigation reinforces that our food isn’t nearly as safe as it should be. This time, more than 60 people got sick from salads, probably because of a failure to sanitize the water used to grow its romaine lettuce.

This was avoidable. As U.S. PIRG detailed in a recent report, under the Food Safety Modernization Act, the FDA was supposed to set public health standards for the water used after harvest or to wash produce. But, that protection still has not been finalized — even after tainted water led to two significant recalls in 2018.

Consumers deserve better public health protections so that the next salad we eat doesn’t cause a trip to the emergency room.”