Canal water may have tainted romaine lettuce
Contaminated irrigation canals may have helped spread the E. coli bacteria that spoiled fields of romaine lettuce and made the crunchy salad green off-limits to millions of Americans for weeks this spring, the government said on Thursday.
The outbreak of E. coli disease killed five people and sickened at least 210 in 36 states, making it the largest outbreak of the killer bacterial infection in a decade.
It was traced to romaine lettuce grown around Yuma, Arizona. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration cautioned people to avoid romaine lettuce unless they could be sure that it wasn't grown in the Yuma area.
The CDC and the FDA said the outbreak was over weeks ago, but the investigation into how so much lettuce got contaminated will take months. No single farm was implicated in the outbreak.
The FDA said Thursday that it found one possible explanation — contaminated canal water.