• Ciera Harrell

FDA, CDC narrow focus of romaine recall

The romaine shortage has prodded restaurants to improvise on the ingredients of the traditional Caesar salad.

“We replaced romaine with a mix of arugula and chopped iceberg, and our customers have enjoyed it and appreciated that we wanted to keep them safe,” said Nick Pizzo, shift leader at LoKal in Coconut Grove [Miami], which uses romaine in its Shrimp Caesar and West Grove salads.

The Food and Drug Administration traced the source of the pre-Thanksgiving outbreak to the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California in the counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura, according to Miami Herald.

Romaine harvested elsewhere such as in Florida, Mexico, Arizona, and in the California desert near Imperial and Riverside counties and romaine grown at hydroponic farms and in greenhouses have been deemed safe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region, do not buy, serve, sell or eat it,” the Centers said in its latest advisory on Tuesday. “If you do not know where the romaine is from, do not eat it and throw it away.”

Processing companies have reached an agreement with the Administration to identify romaine products, including bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes with the harvest origin, “but it may take some time before these labels are available,” the Centers said.

The romaine recall encouraged many shoppers to stock up on other types of lettuce.