Are the CDC warnings about Romaine lettuce unfair?

They are advising people to not eat any romaine lettuce at all because of possible contamination. This seems rather unfair to farmers who are not involved and selling lettuce that is safe. They are being punished for someone else’s mistakes. Should farmers be compensated in some way for the effects of this negative publicity?

Farmers failed to implement a risk-based supply chain program which forces the FDA to use slow and complicated epidemiological methods traceback outbreaks.

Remember that there were outbreaks related to romaine lettuce earlier this spring and in 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010… Is it really ‘fair’ to consumers that, due to the industry failing to put in supply chain controls has resulted in years of illness and death which could be considered negligent homicides?

The fact that farmers and the industry failed to address this issue despite it causing deaths and illness is because the FDA was too forgiving of the industries arguably criminal actions.

The FDA is responsible for Safe, not Fair.

Are the CDC warnings about Romaine lettuce unfair?

Actually, they’re a feature, not a bug. Would you rather wait until the one bad farm is positively identified?

They can and do identify fresh food from farm to market. The problem is, once it gets to the store, no one is really sure what happens next. Was a contaminated head of lettuce mixed in with a different shipment of good lettuce? Did the customer eat the lettuce the same day it was purchased, or did they keep it for a few days while other shipments were received and bought by other customers? If it was in a bag, did it get mixed in with other lettuce from other farms? Is the customer even sure where they got the contaminated lettuce in the first place?

What do we do while the food inspectors try to get all that straightened out? We throw out ANY lettuce that might be contaminated and wait until things get tracked down and corrected.

I was tangentially involved with a food recall in the 1990’s. One batch of contaminated dairy feed from one plant made its way to a handful of dairy farmers in one small area. But because milk often gets mixed with other milk, the recall ended up covering something like 13 states.

Didn’t the romaine at stores and restaurants already get bought from the farmers? And now it all has to be thrown away and new stuff bought?

Or are the farmers responsible for replenishing lost stock for free?

Or is someone’s insurance responsible for it? If so, whose insurance?

Can’t the lettuce be washed/rinsed?

No, the various advisories covered that. Washing doesn’t remove all the bacteria, and it may also have penetrated beneath the surface. Normally the potential presence of E. coli is dealt with by cooking.

That said, I continued to eat romaine during the last scare without a problem, because I love Caesar salads and romaine in sandwiches, but it may be wise to be cautious until the cause is found or the current crops declared safe. For the vulnerable the bacteria is potentially a killer.

According to this, no.

We were listening to NPR while we ate dinner last week when we first heard the news. I was eating leftover rigattoni, my gf was eating a Big Salad made from romaine. I laughed, she looked forlornly at her plate but finished her dinner without ill effect.

Last year the produce guy at Giant Eagle stopped me as I put two three head bags of romaine into my cart. He told me he was about to remove the romaine due to a Salmonella(?) alert. I told him I wanted the romaine anyway, since it wasn’t for me. He gave me a nasty look but let me buy it. (It was for our tortoise, and salmonella isn’t a big deal for him.)

What about E.coli?

E. coil can kill a reptile. Our tortoise has been feasting on Brussel Sprouts along with the dandelions and broad leaf plantains that are still edible from our yard.

I don’t want the CDC worrying about being “fair”. I want the CDC to be all about warning us when our food is contaminated or unsafe. I don’t give a flying fuck about the farmers’ profits when giving a flying fuck about the farmers’ profits can result in me bleeding from multiple orifices with potentially fatal dysentery.

So… if I’ve already eaten half a head of romaine without ill effect is the rest of the head of lettuce safe or not?

The problem in making that assessment is that it can take three or four days to as much as a week for symptoms to appear:

Compensated by whom?

This industry has failed to address an ongoing issue, over many years. An issue with health safety. There were costs associated with supply ID that they were not willing to take on. This is the price of that decision, there is no way to identify one provider or another, as there is no tracking ID.

They left the FDA no choice but to do as they did, in my opinion.

I agree, it is hard to feel bad for an industry that put lives at risk.

But note that the FDA is trying to put in controls right now and the industry is still fighting them. Had the industry stepped up to the plate they could have probably created a less invasive and expensive option.

We’re talking a buck forty-nine or so for half a head of potentially tainted greenery? Why find out?

I talked to the manager of a local restaurant, who is an acquaintance. I was curious about the financial impact of throwing a restaurant’s worth of lettuce away. For this particular restaurant, they only buy a case or two per day. Each case costs them $6; so they threw the stuff they had in stock away and canceled their future orders, so they were out $12 at the most. I have no idea how much romaine is in a case, but after hearing what they paid for it, I truly believe that it’s better safe than sorry to throw it out. Like he said, loosing $12 is a lot easier than having someone get sick and your place being mentioned on the news.

I hate throwing out food.

Meh, bought a head of iceberg for my lunch sandwiches and I guess I’ll toss the romaine, much as I hate doing so. It’s been 3-4 days since I touched it, a bit over a week since I started eating it, but as people have said, why take chances?