Romaine lettuce can be safe to eat if it is labeled with a harvest location and date that is outside of the California growing region, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday.
The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued an alert last week, before Thanksgiving, that consumers should not eat any romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak that sickened 43 Americans and 22 Canadians. But the FDA said on Monday that it was loosening the restriction — but with major caveats.
“Romaine lettuce entering the market can also be labeled as being hydroponically or greenhouse grown,” the agency said. “If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.”
The agency added that romaine lettuce harvested outside of the northern and central California region doesn’t appear to be related to the E. coli outbreak.
“Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,” FDA said. “There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.”
If consumers or restaurants can’t tell if the romaine was harvested in the California region, then they shouldn’t eat or purchase it and the lettuce should be discarded, the FDA said.