NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Centers for Disease Control is still working to pinpoint the source of an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce.
The agency is telling stores and restaurants to stop selling or serving romaine. Most have complied, but not all, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.
A week ago, Fratelli Pizza in New Rochelle was going through a case of the popular lettuce every day. But now, no romaine remains in the cooler. It has all been thrown away.
And if someone orders a romaine salad, “I tell them ‘no,'” said owner Peter Cucullo.
“You have to discard it. You have to get rid of it. You don’t want a situation in here or any problems. Better to just throw it away, get rid of it,” Cucullo added.
They did at the Stop & Shop nearby on Palmer Avenue, posting a sign explaining that the CDC is linking romaine to an E. coli outbreak.
But across town at the Viva Grande Market, dozens of packages of romaine were on display.
CBS2’s Aiello grabbed one, paid $3.99 and then asked the store manager why it was on sale. Aiello was told by the manager he was misinformed by his provider. The manager then promptly cleared romaine from the case.
Until the source of the tainted lettuce is tracked down, consumers should avoid all forms of romaine, CDC epidemiologist Laura Gieraltowski said.
“Don’t buy any romaine lettuce, and that includes salad mixes that could contain romaine lettuce, or whole heads or chopped romaine,” Gieraltowski said.
Food safety expert Sandra Eskin said she worries there may be a systemic problem with the way romaine lettuce is grown or harvested.
“Is it coming from the soil? Is it the water that is used to irrigate? There are any number of potential sources for contamination,” Eskin said.
Experts say thoroughly washing romaine isn’t an option because the bacteria could be inside the leaf, not just on the surface.
If you see it being sold, notify a store manager.
The CDC says 32 people in 11 states have gotten sick from E. coli linked to romaine lettuce. Of those, 13 spent time in the hospital.