U.S. health officials warned consumers on Friday to avoid romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California, due to an outbreak of food poisoning in 16 states.
It's the latest instance of food poisoning tied to romaine lettuce after a similar bout last year. The officials urged people not to eat the leafy green if the label doesn't say where it was grown. They also urged supermarkets and restaurants not to serve or sell the lettuce, unless they're sure it's grown elsewhere.
The officials say the warning applies to all types of romaine from the Salinas region, include whole heads, hearts of romaine and pre-cut salad mixes that have romaine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 40 people in 16 states, with 28 hospitalizations. The agency said its inquiry led investigators to farms in Salinas and that they were looking for the contamination source.
Romaine lettuce has been tied to repeated food poisoning outbreaks, including. On Thursday, a New Jersey company of salad products impacting 22 states due to a potential E. coli contamination.
It's not clear exactly why romaine keeps sickening people, but food safety experts note the difficulty of eliminating risk for produce grown in open fields and eaten raw.
Trevor Suslow of the Produce Marketing Association said, "It's very, very disturbing. Very frustrating all around."