E. Coli Outbreak 2018: Where Is It Safe to Eat Romaine Lettuce?
Update, November 20, 2018: The CDC has announced that more people are sick from a different rash of cases. Read more about the November 2018 e. Coli outbreak.
If United States public health officials don’t get to the bottom of the ongoing multi-state E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce soon, Americans might soon find it even harder to choose a place for dinner. Researchers have narrowed down the source of the contamination to the Yuma, Arizona, growing region, but they’re still not sure where exactly the bacteria got into the lettuce. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is recommending that people avoid the vegetable unless they can identify where it came from, making menu planning a nightmare for fast food and casual dining restaurants that rely on the leafy green.
A handful of American chains have pulled dishes containing romaine lettuce from their menus. Others, like Red Lobster, were too late to hop on the prevention train and were slapped with a hefty lawsuit. Below is a roundup of some of America’s favorite chains and their current romaine status.
According to a PBS report on April 27, McDonald’s has confirmed that none of its romaine lettuce comes from Yuma.
Same goes for Wendy’s.
Ditto Chick-Fil-A, though PBS reported in April that the restaurant is substituting other types of lettuces in its salads or pulling dishes altogether “because of a shortage of romaine.”
Chopt Creative Salad Co.
This salad behemoth has also confirmed on Twitter that its lettuce comes from California and is therefore safe.
The burrito giant briefly stopped serving romaine lettuce in late April, PBS reports, but its lettuce, also sourced from California, is back on the menu. Chris Arnold, a representative for Chipotle, told The Daily Meal in late April: “Neither Chipotle nor our produce suppliers have been contacted regarding any connection to this issue.”
As mentioned above, an Arizona woman has slapped this chain of casual seafood restaurants with a 17-page lawsuit, claiming that she got an E. coli infection from a tainted Caesar salad that she ordered on or around March 23. Rosalie Styles was hospitalized for three days as a result. Red Lobster officials released this statement after local Phoenix station KNXV reached out for comment: “The health and safety of our guests is important to us, which is why we take food safety very seriously. Since this is an open legal matter, I can’t share any additional information at this time.”
The West Coast food behemoth hasn’t released any statements about romaine, but its website says that its burgers use iceberg lettuce.
In late March, a New Jersey woman was hospitalized after becoming infected with E. coli from tainted lettuce at Panera Bread; she filed a lawsuit against the company as well as Freshway Foods, the company that supplies lettuce to Panera, in mid-April. Neither company has released statements about the safety of its products.
Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, Subway, Olive Garden, Burger King, Taco Bell
No word yet on these popular chains. Probably best to stick to carbs instead.