How should I have handled the romaine lettuce "scare"

Recently some news articles said, basically, everyone throw out all of your romiane lettuce because it might be contaminated with e. coli. I had a little bit left of a big bag of salad mix. I didn’t even check if it contained romaine, and finished it the same day. I figured I already survived eating it before, so it couldn’t be contaminated. Then I thought: are the local grocery stores going to know about this? Should I avoid romaine when I buy a new bag? Should I ask before buying if I really want romaine? Should I just wait a few days for things to play out before buying any salad mix? That night I bought a new bag of salad mix, without reading the contents. I didn’t ask anyone about it. There were no signs a “scare” was under way at the grocery store. How did I handle it? How would/did you handle it? Is this the first you heard about it? Oh, and I did not wash the salad mix before eating it. I never do.

First, a misconception; food borne illnesses take about a day or so to be noticeable. If you ate bad romaine, you’re aren’t going to be running to the bathroom 20 minutes later. It’s generally 1-3 days, sometimes longer. IOW, you could have eaten the same salad 2 or 3 days in a row before you start having problems.
As for the recall, yes, there was a recall, yes stores and distributors got rid of all their supply that was related to the outbreak (Yuma, Arizona), but there’s still a lag time between it being on the shelf and it being taken off the shelf. I believe at some point the recall was even expanded.

As for whether or not your salad was contaminated, check the bag and see where it came from. According the recall, if it came from the Yuma, AZ area or an unknown source (as in, a restaurant and the server didn’t know where it was from), don’t eat and/or get rid of it. All the stuff from Salinas and Cochella and Mexico, they’re fine, at least to the extent of not being part of this recall.

Also, as an FYI, when there’s a recall, the distributor lets us know usually by fax, email AND a phone call. We’ll also often get a fax and a phone call from our local health deptartment and, finally, even in our little mom and pop store, the USDA will stop in, under the guise of making sure we were notified by the distributor, but I’m sure it’s also to make sure we actually pulled all the product.


Yeah, they don’t mess around with recalls. This is one of the main reasons (or maybe the reason) why distributors have to keep records of what they sold to who. The USDA can tell everyone that lots xxxx-xxyy on this brand, with this date from this place need to be recalled and they can quickly pull up a list of every store that has it and start notifying them.

Definitely the grocery stores were in on the recall. I recall seeing the notice in my e-mails at work (I don’t pull recalled items any more but I’m still on the e-mail list for notices). When the notice comes through we IMMEDIATELY send someone out to clear the shelves and the computer system is updated so if a cashier tries to ring it up it will refuse the sale and RECALLED ITEM pops up on the register screen. At which point I have to apologize to the customer and not sell the item (usually people are understanding about this, but not always).

We pulled all romaine for a couple days (prompting some customer complaints from people who need their romaine NOW!!11!!) until we could confirm our sources were not affected, after which we put out the lettuce on the sales floor again. Sometimes, for a recalled item, we’ll also post signage on the floor telling people to toss anything they might have purchased before the official notice came out, if people ask we’ll refund it if they bring it in, or we’ll exchange it for other lettuce or whatever. We have no interest in making customers sick, we very much want to safeguard their health because we want them to come back and buy more stuff.

I’m not saying groceries are NEVER an issue with such recalls, but for the current one for romaine lettuce I’d worry more about eating in it in a restaurant than buying it from our store. By all means, if you’re concerned ask questions and if you don’t get answers that satisfy you don’t buy the lettuce.

As of yesterday, my supermarket was well-stocked with romaine; maybe even more than usual.

It’s been more than a week since the outbreaks were announced to the public, maybe 2 weeks now. I assume any new lettuce in restaurant salads today would not be affected. I don’t know how long they’re supposed to keep lettuce in the fridge, but I sincerely hope it’s been delivered more recently than 10 days ago. Can I trust my restaurant/distrubutor/health department not to have the bad romaine on hand after all this time?

I just got back from the woods with my revolver and hand crank radio. I only ate four people this time.

Did you make sure that *they *hadn’t eaten the rotaint?

I would still avoid this lettuce, just cos.

I usually get a side order of Caesar salad with lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. When I ordered it several days ago I was told about the romaine recall. They offered to make a faux Caesar salad with mixed greens, Parmesan, croutons and Caesar dressing. It was pretty good.


This post is a little gem.

I didn’t get it. Could someone explain “I would still avoid this lettuce, just cos” being “a little gem”.

At first it only concerned chopped lettuce, then it expanded to include whole heads of lettuce. I called my local store, but there wasn’t anyone from produce to talk to. In the end, I thought the best choice was to throw my romaine hearts out.

For the few dollars that you spent, that’s nearly always the best idea.

Cos lettuce is another name for romaine.

Maybe they got a good deal from other supermarkets getting rid of it? :eek:

Oh, “cos” is a synonym for “romaine”. I read that here:
(When I thought you were saying romaine is the only type of lettuce, and I was looking for a reference to check my belief that there are other lettuce types.)