A produce worker stocks shelves near romaine lettuce (top shelf center) at a supermarket in Washington, DC on November 20, 2018. - US health officials warned consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce and to throw away any they might have in their homes, citing an outbreak of E. coli poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the warning against all Romaine lettuce just two days before the Thanksgiving holiday, when American families gather and feast together. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A produce worker stocks shelves near romaine lettuce (top shelf center) at a supermarket in Washington, DC on November 20, 2018.
By Tara Law
January 10, 2019

The romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak “appears to be over,” the CDC announced Wednesday.

From Oct. 7 to Dec. 4, 2018, a total of 62 people in 16 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada were infected with the same strain of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce, according to the CDC. No one died as a result of the outbreak, but 25 people were hospitalized and two developed kidney failure.

On Dec. 13, the nation’s leading public health institution said that it had found the possible source of the tainted lettuce, but did not officially declared the outbreak over until today.

The outbreak likely originated in northern and central California, according to the CDC. Investigators searched farms and cooling facilities for the source of the outbreak, and ultimately discovered the strain of E. coli that was infecting people inside an agricultural reservoir at Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. Farm in Santa Barbara County, Calif. It does not appear that the farm was responsible for all of the infections, CDC officials said in December.

Laura Gieraltowski, team lead of the CDC’s food-borne outbreak response team, said at the start of the outbreak that vegetable row crops, such as leafy greens, account for about 40% of E. coli outbreaks.

The outbreak was the second romaine lettuce-linked outbreak in 2018. Between April and June, an outbreak that originated in Yuma, Ariz., infected 210 people in 36 states, killing 5.

The FDA announced on Wednesday that it has halted routine food inspections as a result of the partial government shutdown, but it is working to bring back inspections of “riskier” foods – such as leafy greens and infant formula, the Associated Press reported.

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.

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