SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — The outbreak of E. coli bacteria from romaine lettuce that sickened 59 people from 15 states from Oct. 5 through Nov. 16 has been traced to a reservoir on Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. in Santa Barbara County, the U.S. Center for Disease Control announced Thursday.
In a press release issued the same day, Adam Bros. announced it is recalling the red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and cauliflower.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. is initiating this voluntary recall in cooperation with the FDA,” the release read. “The recall involves produce harvested between November 27, 2018 and November 30, 2018, grown in particular fields. It does not involve all of Adam Bros. Farming, Inc.’s products.”
The outbreak sickened people ranging in age from 1 to 84. A total of 23 were hospitalized, including two people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
Illnesses that occurred after Nov. 21 might not yet be reported because it takes two to three weeks between when a person becomes ill with E. coli infection and when the illness is reported.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of these, 84 percent reported eating romaine lettuce.
According to the CDC, investigators initially traced the contaminated lettuce to the Central Coast counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Barbara.
Eventually, the CDC analyzed water and sediment samples from Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. farm in Santa Barbara County, where they found E. coli in the agricultural water reservoir that was closely related genetically to that from the sick people.
The FDA is investigating how the E. coli bacteria could have entered the agricultural water reservoir and ways romaine lettuce from the farm could have been contaminated.
Romaine lettuce from Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. farm is no longer available for sale.
FDA’s work suggests that additional romaine shipped from other farms could also be implicated in the outbreak, the CDC said. The FDA is continuing its investigation.
For information, visit www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/investigating-outbreaks/index.html.
To see the Adam Bros. press release, visit www.adambros.com/press-release-12132018.pdf.