San Benito County lettuce farmers are now deemed safe, as the recent E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has passed. However, they could face challenges during the next growing season.
Last year, 62 two people in 16 states (and DC) were infected in an October foodborne illness outbreak linked to romaine grown on the Central Coast. Twenty-five people were hospitalized, though no deaths were reported.
Fortunately, San Benito County growers did not suffer a financial loss this time around because romaine in the area had already been harvested and shipped before the recall was announced. According to grower and former San Benito County Farm Bureau president Richard Bianchi, the crop may not do as well in the coming season. The county’s 2017 Crop Report shows romaine sales amounted to $25.6 million.
“We’re getting reports some of these lettuce companies are changing their salad blends, staying away from anything that has the word ‘romaine’ in it,” Bianchi told benitolink.com.