Some ask me why I get so exercised over foodborne illnesses. Here is an email I just got:  

My wife has been hospitalized with typical HUS after E. coli infection verified O157. She consumed Wendy’s three days prior to symptom onset. Has been in hospital from August 6th to present and experienced kidney failure, among other secondary cognitive issues we hope clear up over time. We are still in hospital. 

The good news/bad news of being in the middle of every E. coli outbreak linked to leafy greens over the last 20 years is that I have a lot of insight and contacts outside and inside the industry.

No one would dispute that at this time of the year, lettuce like the romaine/iceberg hybrid would be grown in California instead of Arizona (too damn hot this time of year).  So, it was with little surprise that I learned from multiple sources over the weekend that California is once again, specifically the Santa Maria Valley, the likely source of yet another E. coli outbreak that in the last month has sickened between 84 and 160 people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana who ate at Wendy’s restaurants.

According to Pacific International Marketing (PIM):

The Santa Maria Valley in California stretches from the cool coastal areas to the warm inland valleys. The valley provides a unique climate and soil types making it and ideal place for ideal year-round growing conditions for many of our row crops. Each year, Pacific with its growers and partners produces approximately five million packages of produce from this area.

In the Santa Maria Valley, our growers use both conventional and organic farming practices. They grow anise, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprout stalks, cauliflower, celery, celery hearts, cilantro, green onion, iceberg lettuce, kale, leeks, mixed leaf lettuce, parsley, radishes, romaine, romaine hearts, spinach and spring mix lettuces.

Watch this space or the lawsuits in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana. Although, if Wendy’s and/or the grower, processor, shipper want to chat, I am all ears.