The FDA thinks Walmart may have a solution to recall Roman lettuce


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Of Maggie Fox

Twice this year, federal health officials warned Americans not to eat Roman lettuce at all and asked the stores to throw away all their supplies.

It was not because all the Roman lettuce in the country was contaminated. It was because there was not a good way to quickly understand where the contaminated lettuce came from. When people started dying of E. coli infections last spring, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided that the safest bet was just to tell people to stop eating it.

It took weeks to restrict the spring epidemic in Yuma, Arizona. It took several days to track down the epidemic this fall in central California. At best, when someone fell ill, it would be possible to understand what they were eating and where they came from, so that the specific farm or processor or distributor could be shut down.

On the contrary, it takes days to discover an epidemic, more days to ask people what they have recently eaten to try to find a food that all the sick have in common and then sometimes weeks to find a common source for that food.

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