Romaine Caused Most Leafy Greens E. coli Outbreaks in the Last Decade

Romaine lettuce was the source of more than half of the 40 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli  (STEC) outbreaks linked to leafy greens between 2009 and 2018, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Shiga toxins are poisons that are produced by some strains of E. coli which cause severe illness in humans. The 40 outbreaks caused 1,212 illnesses, 420 hospitalizations, 77 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure; and eight deaths.

Contact the Pritzker Hageman E. coli Team

Phone1-888-377-8900  |   Text1-612-261-0856

Contact an E. coli Lawyer

Leafy greens are the second most common source of STEC outbreaks in the U.S. (Ground beef leads the list.) Most of the outbreaks occurred during the fall (45 percent) and the spring (28 percent). The study’s authors concluded that more research is needed about the seasonality of leafy green outbreaks.

They also noted that the leafy greens industry needs to improve the traceability of these products as gaps in this area have repeatedly hamstrung epidemiologic and traceback investigations.


STEC live in the intestines of ruminant animals, primarily cattle. These bacteria are shed in feces and can contaminate leafy greens through runoff into irrigation water, dust blowing onto crops from neighboring ranches or direct contact.

About 98 percent of all leafy greens grown in the U.S. are grown in California and Arizona. Investigations of recent outbreaks have identified neighboring cattle operations as a possible source of contamination.

The study’s authors noted that some changes were implemented by California and Arizona growers after the study period. But for those who have seen the ravages of these illnesses, the bottom line is clear. “The producers and suppliers of romaine lettuce and other produce need to get their act together and start tracking where their products come from and where they end up. Until they do, we’ll continue to get products contaminated with fecal matter, and we’ll see plenty more E. coli outbreaks in the future,” said noted Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker.


Deja Vu – New FDA Report on Romaine E. coli Outbreaks Sounds Familiar
Romaine E. coli – 3 Outbreaks in 3 years, 1 Strain, Zero Answers
Pritzker Hageman E.coli Lawyers Represent Woman Gravely Ill in Romaine E.coli Outbreak
Romaine E. coli Outbreaks, a Neverending Story?
Wisconsin Romaine E. coli Outbreak Sickens 33, 2 with HUS
Romaine E. coli Outbreak Sickens Three in Minnesota
CDC Lifts Warning on Salinas Romaine as E. coli Outbreak Ends


The E. coli lawyers at Pritzker Hageman have represented clients in every major E. coli outbreak in the U.S.  If you would like to request a free consultation with our experienced E. coli Team, please call us at 1-888-377-8900, text us at 612-261-0856 or, fill out the form below.

We are not paid unless you win. Submitting this form does not create an attorney-client relationship.




Share this article:

Category: Food Poisoning
Ready to talk?

We're here to listen. Tell us what happened to you.

We are not paid unless you win. Submitting this form does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Related Articles