Remember the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak that originated in Yuma, Arizona, and claimed five lives and sent 96 people to the hospital? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), canal water contaminated by cow manure was likely the cause.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has been investigating the outbreak along with the CDC and other state and local partners, recently posted an update on their website that delves into the cause of the contamination, reporting that nearby canal water tested positive for the same strain of E. coli as the outbreak and hypothesizing that a nearby facility containing up to 100,000 head of cattle may very well be the culprit.
Here’s an excerpt from the update:
As FDA has previously stated, samples of canal water have tested positive for the outbreak strain of E. coli. FDA continues to consider that contaminated water coming into contact with produce, either through direct irrigation or other means, is a viable explanation for the pattern of contamination. But other hypotheses were discussed as well. FDA notes that the canal is close to a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), a facility with a large number of cattle on the premises. The CAFO can hold in excess of 100,000 head of cattle at any one time and the FDA traceback information showed a clustering of romaine lettuce farms nearby.
The news appeared on Twitter:
— New York Post (@nypost) August 10, 2018
And many commenters responded with humor:
that is such BS
— Old-school Nurse (@ShitheadJohnson) August 10, 2018
— John Paczkowski (@JohnPaczkowski) August 8, 2018
— Bryan Palmer (@dnbpalmer) August 10, 2018
What's next a dingo farm next to a daycare facility?
— robert emmett (@irishbark) August 10, 2018
— Rise Of Foles (@RiseOfFoles) August 8, 2018
But others were angry or dumbfounded:
And this facility housing 100,000 head of cattle just suddenly sprang up out of nowhere? Seriously?
— Dave Nichols (@DaveNicholsTN) August 10, 2018
No shit. @USDA won't do jack shit, nor will they raise standards nor severely punish the parent company (not the farm) by fining them 1/4th of their total net worth.
— Waleed Afzal (@Risviltsov_) August 9, 2018
— Pamela (@gallytin) August 8, 2018
And then there were these people:
I ordered a salad for lunch with romaine in it, in hopes that there’s still some E. coli, so I could get out of work.
Happy Thursday ✨
— Cassie Cardwell (@awellofcards) August 9, 2018
I eat romaine almost everyday hoping the same thing. #samemind
— Shannon McHugh (@shannmcq) August 9, 2018
As far as eating romaine goes, the CDC announced in May that it was safe for consumption.