You may have heard about a recall on romaine lettuce and we wanted to provide confirmation that on November 20, 2018 the CDC issued a Food Safety Alert on ALL romaine lettuce and products containing romaine (blends).
Here are some things you need to know:
- The CDC and FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) infections linked to romaine lettuce.
- CDC is advising that U.S. consumers should not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants should not serve or sell any, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine until they learn more about the outbreak. No common growing region, grower, supplier, distributor or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.
- If you become ill, you should contact your local health department, also known as a county or city health department. You may also call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) to report the illness.
Steps Culinary Services has taken:
- All items containing our romaine blend have been removed and disposed of. This includes chef salads, Caesar salads and the blend we serve on our salad bar.
- Iceberg lettuce is being used in place of romaine lettuce until further notice.
- Since this is a national recall, we may begin to see shortages on other types of lettuce. We will do our best to have lettuce options available but with you and our patients’ safety our priority, we may choose to restrict other lettuce options depending on what the CDC advises.
What to do at home:
- If you have any whole romaine, lettuce blends containing romaine such as salad kits, they should be disposed of immediately.
- Clean and sanitize your countertops, refrigerators and containers that romaine has come in contact with.
The investigation is ongoing and CDC advice will be updated on www.cdc.gov website as more information is available. Please share this information with your family and friends to help prevent any further illnesses.
The manager of the Eatery has provided some simple suggestions to help keep your kitchen safe:
- Clean spills immediately. Eliminate spills as soon as they occur so bacteria doesn’t have time to get established. There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Cleaning removes dirt, grime, grease and some bacteria. Disinfecting kills bacteria on contact. If you let food residue dwell on your countertop, you probably have more bacteria around than a simple cleaning swipe will tackle.
- Disinfect your washcloths and sponges. If you reuse the same cleaning aids, they can become potential breeding farms for bacteria, molds and yeasts. Sponges have the worst reputation, but kitchen washcloths come in close second. If you use these, just make sure to clean them after every use, dry them thoroughly between uses and replace them every couple of weeks. Get in the habit of tossing washcloths in the dishwasher or washing machine every time you clean. You can also sanitize sponges and washcloths using disinfectant or a bleach solution.
- Clean and disinfect. Nasty germs like salmonella, E. coli and staphylococcus can survive on surfaces for hours and even days, and sometimes disinfecting surfaces is a better option than just cleaning them. For cleaning, the CDC recommends warm, soapy water to clean countertops and other kitchen surfaces before and after food preparation followed by disinfecting. For disinfecting jobs like cleaning up areas where raw meat has been prepared, the CDC recommends using a disinfectant designed for use on countertops or a weak bleach solution you can prepare yourself. Allow treated surfaces to air dry. If you decide to use a prepared disinfectant, read and follow the directions carefully. Most require a clean water rinse to remove chemical residues after application to food prep areas. Disinfectants should never be sprayed on or near food.
- Consider an Organic Approach – For some, the idea of using harsh chemicals to clean the kitchen just doesn’t make sense. Chemicals can be toxic when not used properly. In the case of bleach, even though it may be considered natural, it’s still a strong chemical. If you’d like to try a disinfectant that’s a little more planet and user-friendly, Susan Sumner, the author of Green Housekeeping, has a suggestion. Susan recommends disinfecting your countertops and other kitchen surfaces with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. This is a two-part process:
- Place the contents of a bottle of hydrogen peroxide (3 percent strength) into a dark spray bottle. Light will destroy the peroxide, so the container has to be dark.
- Fill a second spray bottle with white vinegar.
- Wash your countertops with soap and water as you would normally.
- Now spray them with vinegar and follow up immediately with the peroxide.
- You don’t have to rinse and the vinegar smell will dissipate on its own in a few minutes. Don’t combine the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in a single spray bottle, though. The vinegar will convert the peroxide to pure water before it has a chance to do its job. Used separately, this dynamic duo will bubble away germs and leave your countertops clean, disinfected and ready for anything.