E-Coli outbreak affecting romaine lettuce leaves 53 people sick across 16 states

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Local farming agencies are still trying to find out where an E-Coli outbreak that contaminated romaine lettuce started.

So far the lettuce has made its way to 16 states and sent 31 people to the hospital.

Scott Horsfall with the California leafy green marketing agreement says the cause is unclear.

"It can then get into a field of produce crop from contaminated water or it can be tracked in by animals and it can be spread in a processing line," said Horsfall.

He says there are measures in place preventing a similar situation from occurring in the Central Valley.

"We verify through government on-site safety audits that people are following a set of food safety practices designed to minimize any risk," said Horsfall.

Local grower Joe Del Bosque says people can also do their part to make sure what they are eating is clean.

"It is always a good practice to take your produce home and wash it before you eat it," said Del Bosque.

Alex Ott president of OTT and Davidson consulting for food safety and security says the key to prevention is tracing back where the infected crop came from but finding the source could be a challenge since lettuce is perishable.

"It could take several weeks, it could take several months, there is obviously a challenge," said Ott.
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