A nearly two-month investigation ended Wednesday with the release of a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report pointing to romaine lettuce as the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened at least 60 people in 10 states. The romaine lettuce was served in salad bars at multiple Schnucks supermarket locations and originated at a single farm and distributor – neither of which has yet to be named.
“The practice of holding back names of distributors and producers is not altogether uncommon, but nonetheless troubling,” said food safety expert and E. coli attorney, Bill Marler. “Schnucks ought to do two things: release the names of both the farm and distributor and make sure the medical bills of the their customers are covered,” said Marler.
Since 2000 there have been over 80 foodborne illness outbreaks linked to lettuce and, since 1993 lettuce has been responsible for more than two-dozen E. coli outbreaks. Many of those outbreaks affected multiple states as is presently the case with victims identified in the following 10 states: Arizona (1), Arkansas (2), Georgia (1), Illinois (9), Indiana (2), Kansas (3), Kentucky (1), Minnesota (3), Missouri (37), and Nebraska (1). In addition to Schnucks, illnesses have been linked to universities in both Missouri and Minnesota.