Ask Addie: If we aren’t supposed to eat romaine lettuce, why is it on grocery store shelves?

That’s a question I’ve received from a few of you this week, as both the Centers for Disease Control and Consumer Reports warn consumers not to eat heads, hearts and bags of romaine lettuce while investigators try to find the exact source of a recent E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens.

H-E-B has said that it is not sourcing lettuce from Arizona right now, but there aren’t any signs in the store with more specific information. You can still buy bags of romaine lettuce in most stores. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Even though none of the reported illnesses have been in Texas, many grocery stores are continuing to sell lettuce. Some companies, including H-E-B, have stated that they do not source from the Yuma, Arizona area, but during a stop by a store today, you could find plenty of products with the dubious “Product of USA” or “Grown in USA” label or signage.

Much of the lettuce sold at H-E-B carries a “Grown in USA” or “Product of USA” label, but that’s not specific enough to assuage watchdog agencies, including Consumer Reports. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

According to the two biggest public health watchdogs, you’re not supposed to be buying and eating lettuce unless it specifically is not grown in Arizona. So, that means you can still eat and buy romaine lettuce, but you need to be careful about how you source it. Here are three ways to following the guidelines and still eat your salad:

  1. Buy from a local farmer. Central Texas farmers are not involved in the outbreak, as Johnson’s Backyard Garden pointed out in an Instagram post this week.

    This brand of romaine lettuce is grown in California, which is not an area of the country currently affected by the romaine lettuce warning. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

  2. Seek out lettuce from another area of the country than Arizona. If the only lettuce options include a vague mention of “Grown in USA,” skip it, at least for now.

    Now is the time to real labels. This brand of lettuce is grown in California, so it should be OK to eat under the current CDC and Consumer Reports guidelines. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

  3. Buy a different kind of lettuce. Romaine lettuce is the product currently only scrutiny. Other kinds of lettuce, including butter head and iceberg, are OK to eat.

 

 

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