Almost a week after the Centers for Disease Control announced another big romaine lettuce recall, you still can't find it in grocery stores.
As authorities continue to try to pinpoint the source of the E.coli that sickened people in October, customers will continue to have to wait for the all-clear. Until then, here are some things to know about the recall and about our lettuce consumption in general.
• A total of 32 people in 11 states were sickened by romaine lettuce in October, with the majority of cases in California and none in Texas. In Canada, 18 people have fallen ill from the same strain of E. coli. This is the same strain that caused the 2017 outbreak, but not to the one that happened earlier this year.
• The CDC's warning is stern: "Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix and Caesar salad." However, some in the industry have said that the CDC "threw the baby with the bath water out when they advised that all romaine lettuce be discarded."
• Although the "CDC is advising that consumers do not eat any romaine lettuce because no common grower, supplier, distributor or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified," you'll find some locally grown lettuce at local farmers markets and maybe even at restaurants because they can source directly from farmers whose produce is not shipped to the places where the outbreaks occurred in October. From an H-E-B rep: "H-E-B has withdrawn all romaine lettuce products from store shelves out of an abundance of caution, and the product will not scan at the check stand. H-E-B’s top priority is food safety and we will restock the product when it is safe for consumption."
• Americans eat a lot of lettuce, almost 25 pounds per year. That's second only to potatoes (and tomatoes, if you count them as a vegetable), according to the USDA, but we're eating 20 percent less lettuce than we were a decade ago. According to the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center, about one-fourth of all iceberg lettuce is now destined for processing into prepackage salads.
• Lettuce is the most lucrative crop in the grocery store. The total value of U.S. lettuce production in 2015 was $1.9 billion. About 95 percent of lettuce consumed in the U.S. is grown domestically. California grows about 70 percent of lettuce grown in the U.S., followed by Arizona.