The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a report last week that was a follow-up of their initial findings from E. coli outbreaks stemming from the Central Coast of California last fall. That outbreak included 19 states with 20 of the reported 40 cases needing hospitalization.
But the published report took a broader look at E. coli outbreaks that have occurred every fall since 2017. The FDA said all of the cases were related to nearby cattle operations, more specifically feces from those animals that contained the E. coli strain that made it to the product.
Media reports are claiming this is a ‘warning shot’ to Central Coast leafy green producers because cattle and produce operations are often nearby. The FDA said in the report that those producers should see this as a ‘reasonably foreseeable hazard‘ and recommends participation in the California Longitudinal Study and the California Agricultural Neighbors workgroup.
“We know how important food safety is for our leafy greens growers. Our SLO County and Central Coast ag economy depends on both vegetable and cattle production, and I know we’re going to make sure both can coexist here,” San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett told AgNet West. “The real question is what level of proximity or other factors translate into foreseeable increased food safety risks. Given the multiple potential avenues of E. coli transmission, pests, wind, water and other sources, it may not be as simple as putting a mile or two buffer between a cattle pasture and lettuce field.”
Listen to the radio report.