The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the all-clear to the leafy vegetable after declaring the E. coli “outbreak appears to be over” in its final update posted Wednesday.
The agency said the contaminated lettuce from California that made people sick no longer should be available in stores and restaurants.
In all, 62 people in 16 states became sick, including 25 hospitalized but no deaths from Oct. 7 to Dec. 4. Also, Canada reported 29 cases of E. coli were also linked to romaine lettuce from the same area.
The CDC first announced the outbreak two days before Thanksgiving, telling consumers to stay away from all romaine lettuce during an investigation.
On Nov. 26, one week later, illnesses continued to be reported but federal health officials determined that the likely source of the outbreak was lettuce from “the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California.” Romaine from anywhere else could be sold and eaten. The growers agreed to label where the lettuce was grown.
The CDC, working with the Food and Drug Administration, ultimately determined on Dec. 13 the outbreak source was a strain of E. coli in sediment from an agricultural water reservoir on a farm in Santa Barbara County, Calif.
On Dec., 13, Adam Bros. Farming Inc. in Santa Barbara County recalled red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and cauliflower harvested Nov. 27-30 because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Recalls were later expanded for sandwiches and other products from Northwest Cuisine Creations and Fresh & Local made with recalled lettuce or cauliflower.
“FDA is continuing to investigate to learn more about how the E. coli bacteria could have entered the agricultural water reservoir and ways romaine lettuce from the farm could have been contaminated,” the agency said.
Another E. coli outbreak was linked to romaine lettuce from March through June. Across 36 states, 210 people became ill, including almost 100 hospitalized, and five died. It was linked to romaine grown in Yuma, Ariz. Contaminated irrigation canals in Arizona may have helped spread E. coli bacteria into fields of romaine lettuce, the CDC said.
E.coli symptoms vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and a fever of less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the CDC. People usually get better within five to seven days but other cases are severe or even life-threatening, including among children and older adults with kidney failure.