According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the likelihood that there's any E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce linked to the Arizona-area farms where a recent outbreak is thought to have started is slim to none. Mostly, that's because any of the potentially tainted lettuce would be expired by now, and thus not for sale at grocery stores or being used in restaurants (hopefully). Evidently, the growing season in Arizona ended in mid-April, which means the last lettuce grown there was packed on April 16, putting it well past its 21-day shelf life by now.
“It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in people’s homes, stores, or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life,” the CDC said in its latest statement. “The most recent illnesses reported to CDC started when romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region was likely still available in stores, restaurants, and in peoples’ homes.”
However, there's an unnerving detail included in the good news. Specifically, the CDC still hasn't been able to determine exactly where the E. coli outbreak originated (or at least hasn't reported as much publicly yet), which doesn't exactly put us at ease, considering it sickened 172 people in 32 states, and resulted in a death. As BGR reports, there's a good reason it's been so difficult to trace the outbreak's contamination point, since romaine lettuce from multiple farms is often packaged together, and there's an incredibly complex supply chain involved.
Then again, as long as long as we're in the clear to enjoy caesar salad season unscathed, we're feeling pretty OK about things.