Based on scheduled growing seasons, the product involved in the E. coli O145 lettuce outbreak that has sickened many people in Michigan, Ohio, and New York was likely grown and processed in Yuma, Arizona. The outbreak has resulted in at least 12 hospitalizations and 3 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Lettuce was imported as an agricultural crop to the Yuma area during Territorial days, and became a major agricultural commodity in the 1970s. Today, Arizona ranks second, following California, in production of lettuce. Lettuce production in Arizona includes head, leaf and romaine lettuces, and is the State’s leading cash crop averaging more than $300 million in value. There are approximately 75,000 acres of lettuce grown in the southwestern United States.
Approximately 45,000-55,000 acres of the lettuce are grown in Arizona, 95% of which is produced in the lower Colorado River and Gila River Valleys of Yuma County where elevation is below 100 feet.