Prying information out of California and Canadian public health officals should not be how the public is informed about and E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.

Coral Beach (what a great name) of the Packer continued the work of Food Safety News and eFoodert when she reported this morning that California health officials have traced romaine lettuce blamed for E. coli illnesses in California and Canada to California grower Amazing Coachella Inc.

California Department of Public Health officials confirmed that the romaine linked to the April outbreak was grown and distributed by Amazing Coachella Inc., which is the parent company of Peter Rabbit Farms, both based in Coachella, Calif.

The E. coli outbreak sickened at least nine people in California. Most of those victims ate at “a single unnamed restaurant” according to California public health officials. At least one case of the same strain of E. coli 0157:H7 was reported in Quebec.

Another 18 people who ate at a Jungle Jim’s restaurant in Miramichi, New Brunswick, also became ill, according to Denis Allard, deputy chief medical officer for the New Brunswick Department of Health.

The suspect romaine was distributed as whole heads, not fresh cut, according to California officials.

California health officials said the romaine was shipped to a distributor in Quebec, and also supplied to the California restaurant and the Miramichi, New Brunswick, restaurant, Jungle Jim’s. When officials investigated the growing operation, the fields had already been tilled in preparation for the next season.

  • Lawrence Bernstein

    I like to know how this happened to heads of Romaine Lettuce and if washing would have prevented this??? If not…how can the consumer ever protect themselves from any leafy green produce?

  • Sam

    I’ve worked many years with produce, and always say “if you don’t wash it, you get what you deserve”. Sounds harsh, but it truly is up to the consumer (and restaurant preparation personnel) to carefully wash all produce prior to use. I’d bet all the cataloupe in Colorado that the implicated restaurants did not properly wash the lettuce. Thus, they poisoned their customers.

  • mom

    That’s my question as well. How do you avoid contamination? To me, it seems logical that perhaps the farm was fertilized with contaminated fertilizer? Or maybe it happens to be near a beef feed lot? How do we ever actually find out? And why do repeat offenders keep operating?