Local restaurants adjust menus as romaine lettuce recall expands
You may want to check your refrigerator as the E. Coli outbreak for romaine lettuce is expanding.
Officials narrowed in on the source causing nationwide recalls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a farm in Santa Maria, California is to blame.
The California farm linked to the romaine lettuce E. Coli outbreak has now recalled other products as a precaution. Adam Brothers in Santa Maria is recalling red and green leaf lettuce as well as cauliflower harvested in late November from certain fields.
In a news release, the company said water in a reservoir tested positive for E. Coli and it's possible that the same water came into contact with the products after they were harvested. So far, no one has gotten sick due to the lettuce or cauliflower.
The growing list of recalls is impacting some local restaurants. Most businesses go through a distributor to buy produce for their kitchen. When the first E. Coli outbreak happened, romaine lettuce was removed from orders.
"We immediately took all the products that we have serving with the romaine lettuce specifically off of our menu as well as out of our service," said David McLain, with Puckett's Restaurant.
McLain said their corporate office sent an internal memo letting them know of the recall. The newest recall is having little impact on their menu. Only about five items have those ingredients, the ones that do have substitutions or they are buying produce from approved farmers.
"We might have to substitute say a romaine lettuce with a green leaf lettuce or a spring mix that has romaine lettuce in it for one that doesn't have romaine lettuce in it," McLain explained.
Bev Fulbright with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department said the symptoms of the virus vary by person, but in some cases, it's been deadly.
"It can cause nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and can lead to kidney failure," said Fullbright.
For this reason, McLain can't express enough to his staff the importance of thoroughly washing produce, especially ones that aren't cooked at high temperatures.
"Just to make sure that anything that comes in, produce especially is rid of any dirt as well as any chemicals they might use on there," he said.
At Puckett's and at many restaurants in Chattanooga say distributors are buying from farms cleared by the FDA, but if you have any questions, check labels to find out where it was harvested.
"Safety for our guest and our team members is our number one priority so we're going to do what we need to but we're also going to provide that same experience that people come to expect when they come to eat at Puckett's," McLain said.
So far, no illnesses connected to those lettuces and cauliflower have been reported. Officials say if you have one of the recalled products, you should throw it out. The products were harvested between Nov. 27 and Nov. 30.