Summertime E. coli outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce have caused severe illness. So, what’s the likelihood that one has been unfolding in recent weeks? Unfortunately, the odds are pretty good.
Do You Need an E. coli Lawyer?
Research has shown that the survival rate of E. coli O157:H7 on cold-stored, packaged romaine harvested in the fall is significantly higher than when it is harvested in other seasons. Autumn E. coli recalls for leafy greens tend to outpace those in other seasons.
One of the largest-ever E. coli salad recalls occurred in November 2019 when 38 tons of prepackaged, salad and prepared items were recalled. The recall included chicken Caesar salads, Southwestern-style salads, Sante Fe salads, Cobb salads, and Chef salads sold at Target, Aldi, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, and Giant Eagle stores, and at Dominos Pizza locations. It was triggered because the products contained romaine lettuce from the same lot as Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Chicken Caesar Salads which had been linked to an E. coli outbreak.
Although most romaine E. coli outbreaks also happen in the fall, they do occur year-round. And illnesses associated with outbreaks during the summer months are often characterized by high numbers of hospitalizations and patients diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure that affects some E. coli patients.
Wendy’s, Chipotle, and Panera E. coli Outbreaks
Just last summer, a six-state E. coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce served on burgers and sandwiches at Wendy’s restaurants sickened 109 people in the course of a few weeks. Health officials interviewed 98 of the patients and learned 52 of them were hospitalized, a rate of more than double the average. Thirteen had developed HUS.
In November 2021, a two-state E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce served at Panera and Chipotle restaurants sickened seven people over a two-week period. None of them developed HUS or were hospitalized.
Investigators from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined that Reinhart Foods supplied romaine to the two Chipotle locations in Rochester, MN where patients had eaten. Reinhart Foods received that lettuce from Taylor’s Farms in Salinas, CA, and the lettuce was grown in Salinas.
Roughly 95 of the nation’s leafy greens come from Arizona and California, their growing seasons divide the year. In November, production shifts from the Salinas/coastal California area to Yuma, AZ. In April, it shifts back to California. So, during the summer, almost all of the romaine lettuce on store shelves and restaurant tables comes from California.
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2020 E. coli Outbreak Unknown Source 1
In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced three E. coli outbreaks ( E. coli Outbreak Unknown Source 1, 2, and 3) where the source was not initially confirmed but leafy greens were suspected. Eventually, leafy greens were confirmed as the source for “Unknown Source 2,” but they remain as suspected sources for the others.
E. coli Outbreak Unknown Source 1 included 21 illnesses that occurred between June and October of that year. One person developed HUS, and a patient in Michigan died. Genetic tests showed the outbreak strain was the same as the one that caused one of the deadliest leafy greens outbreaks in history, the Yuma-grown romaine E. coli outbreak of 2018, which sickened 210 people, killing five of them.
2019 Secret Romaine E. coli Outbreak
A 12-state E. coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce sickened 23 people from July 12, 2019, to September 8, 2019. Eleven people were hospitalized. Eleven of the 23 patients were hospitalized. Case totals from each state were: Arizona (3), California (8), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (2), Maryland (1), North Carolina (1), Nevada (1), New York (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (2) and South Carolina (1).
Experienced E. coli Lawyers
If you developed an E. coli infection from contaminated food and would like a free consultation with an experienced E. coli lawyer, please contact our E. coli Legal Team. We have represented clients in every major E. coli outbreak in the U.S. You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.