Target & Walmart Lettuce Hit By Nationwide E. Coli Outbreak

A new Thanksgiving tradition appears to be forming in the United States: a massive recalling of lettuce. 

After last year’s untimely recall of the entire nation’s supply of romaine lettuce, the same appears to be happening again this year. There has been a recall of romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, CA due to its carrying of E. coli.

The CDC first announced the outbreak on Friday, and repercussions have continued to show themselves throughout the weekend. As reported by Fox 11 Los Angeles, some of the nation’s biggest retailers have been clearing their shelves of all romaine lettuce originating from the central valley city. Target recently joined other mega-chains such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Aldi, and Wegman’s in doing so.

However, before any store could act, there had already been 40 related cases reported in 16 different states, 28 of which have led to hospitalizations, and 5 of which have resulted in kidney failure. Luckily, though, no deaths have been reported in relation to the outbreak. 

The CDC suggests to throw away any remaining romaine lettuce whose packaging says it either originates in Salinas or has no mention of growing location.

Better to play it safe than introduce an E. Coli outbreak to the family.

Unfortunately, it looks like there won’t be any salad to slowly wilt away as everyone ignores it at this year’s Thanksgiving. But, on the bright side, that’s one less dish to worry about. 

Health Recalls

A ‘Do Not Eat Romaine Lettuce’ Advisory Was Just Issued For The THIRD Time This Year

For the third time in the last 12 months, a “Do Not Eat” advisory for romaine lettuce has been issued. Like the last two times, the reason behind the advisory and ensuing recalls is the contamination of the produce with E. Coli O157:H7.

According to a joint press release from the FDA and CDC, the strain of E. Coli involved in this outbreak is similar to the one that infected customers in the US and Canada last winter, but not the same as the massive romaine lettuce recall from the Yuma, Arizona region this past summer. They have yet to identify the source of the current outbreak, however.

So far, 32 people across 11 states have fallen ill, with 13 of those requiring hospitalization.

E. Coli O157:H7 infections exhibit symptoms like vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and stomach pains. It can also result in the development of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a condition that can lead to kidney failure and requires extensive treatment.

For now, the FDA and CDC are urging consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce of all kinds and to toss out any present in the fridges. Manufacturers are also encouraged to recall all romaine products to prevent any more lettuce from getting out.

The fact that this is the third such recall to happen to the same vegetable in the past year is alarming, particularly when each one has required a “Do Not Eat” advisory. Consumer Reports issued the first one last year, while the CDC and FDA have issued the past two.

Fast Food News

Chipotle Is Testing Spicy Milkshakes And Avocado Tostadas

Photo Courtesy of Anna-Marie Walsh/@beautyandthebeets

Chipotle had the reputation of being a healthy alternative fast casual restaurant that was very selective with its menu items, but as it tries to climb out of the hole dug by a plague of e. Coli outbreaks, it looks like they’re throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

The Mexican grill’s latest rollout of test menu items are far removed from its “healthy” reputation, as they include quesadillas, nachos, tostadas, and even a Mexican chocolate milkshake.

Yes, you might soon be able to get a milkshake at Chipotle.

These items are being tested at their Next Kitchen in New York, where they’ve tested items before such as quinoa and frozen palomas.

While none of their new menu items are particularly exclusive to any restaurant, it does feel like Chipotle is taking a page out of Taco Bell’s innovation book. After all, they are a major competitor in the Mexican-inspired fast food world.

Over the last decade, Taco Bell has had a barrage of innovative menu items, and it has been difficult for fast food competitors to keep up. Between burritos that feature Fritos and at one point even Pop Rocks, and nacho fries, Taco Bell has proven that going balls to the wall not only helps generate hype, but it actually shows in sales.

If you don’t believe that these limited time menu items are beneficial to a restaurant such as Taco Bell, their most recent Nacho Fries rollout was the most successful launch in their history, selling more than 53 million orders in less than 2 month span.

Even Del Taco has shown a willingness to mix things up with huevos ranchero burritos, queso blanco, and even fire roasted shrimp.

Sofritas quesadilla & avocado tostada from the Chipotle test kitchen.

A post shared by Erik (@boringerik) on

Conversely, Chipotle has had slow and prodding innovation, with past attempts at chorizo and queso not exactly connecting with consumers. Their chorizo option is no more, and they had to adjust their queso recipe after facing backlash for its chalky taste.

With Chipotle trying to jump back in the saddle, this is the first time in recent memory they’ve announced five new items at once. You have to think at least one of them will connect. Possibly the milkshake?

It does looks like the shake has potential. New Yorker Anna-Marie Walsh tried it out at the test kitchen, describing it as having a bit of a spicy taste, adding that it was “absolutely delicious.”

A post shared by Tim Wildin (@timtimnyc) on

Believe it or not, you were able to order a quesadilla before, but it wasn’t on Chipotle’s official menu, and as we learned with the secret menu Quesarito, it was a bitch to for them to fire up a quesadilla with the way their kitchen was set up.

Time will tell if these items will be deemed worthy of a nationwide rollout. It certainly seems like milkshakes, quesadillas, and avocado tostadas would be a welcoming addition to their everyday menu. Until then, Chipotle fans will just have to go with their usual order.

Grocery Health News Packaged Food

Recent E. Coli Outbreak In Romaine Lettuce Is One Of The Worst In US History

Over the past few months, the romaine lettuce industry out in Yuma, Arizona has been weathering a severe E. Coli outbreak. While the immediate threat of food poisoning for consumers no longer exists, the newest numbers of who were affected by the CDC make it one of the worst in history.

e. coli outbreak

Based on the CDC’s latest report, at least 197 people fell ill across 35 states due to E. Coli O157:H7 found in the romaine. Of that number, 89 were hospitalized and 5 deaths were reported. At least 6 illnesses and another death linked to the same lettuce were also reported from Canada.

The spread and count of those infected is on par with the big spinach E. Coli O157:H7 scare that occurred in 2006. Considered to be the worst outbreak of its kind in modern US history, 238 illnesses were reported, with 103 hospitalized and 5 deaths.

Another similar massive food poisoning outburst with E. Coli O157:H7 occurred with Jack in the Box in early 90s, where over 700 got sick and 3 died.

This year’s romaine lettuce outbreak mirrors those numbers, giving it an unfortunate place as one of the worst and deadliest E. coli outbreaks in US history.

E. Coli O157:H7 is a special strain of the bacteria that produces a toxin that can induce something called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. This disease can lead to kidney failure, has a 5 percent mortality rate. 26 of those affected by the romaine poisonings developed this condition.

What’s concerning for the food industry is that E. Coli outbreaks have been reported in fresh produce. Beef is the normal item of concern with this bacteria, and proper heat treatment can kill off sufficient amounts to prevent food poisoning. Since lettuce isn’t typically heat-treated, though, the microbes can easily grow and induce toxicity.

There are some “cold pasteurization” methods that the industry does have that can potentially treat lettuce. One of those is irradiation, a food-safe burst of radiation that is already approved for usage in spinach and iceberg lettuce. Potential usage in romaine is unlikely, however, given that the dosage can produce some softening and ruin the lettuce’s texture. Consumers are also very against any form of radiation on their foods, meaning that even if romaine could be irradiated, it likely would not be bought.

Another potential technique the industry has in its arsenal is pulsed electric field treatments. Intermittent, quick blasts of electricity are used to kill or inactivate microbes without heating up the food significantly. It works well in liquids, but research on solid foods like romaine is still scant.

Hopefully, science can figure out how to use these or other methods to get rid of pathogenic E. coli on our produce. For now, though, we can breathe easy, as all of the romaine that may have been contaminated in this outbreak is long gone.

Health News Science

CDC Urges Entire U.S. To Throw Out Romaine Lettuce Because Of E. Coli

A massive, multi-state outbreak of E. Coli 0157:H7 in Romaine lettuce has pushed the CDC to take drastic measures. They’re now calling on the entire country to throw out their romaine if they’re not sure where it comes from.

Currently, 53 individuals have reported illnesses associated with the E. Coli outbreak, with the largest concentrations of disease occurring in Idaho and Pennsylvania.

In total, people in 16 different states have been involved with the contaminated lettuce, which the CDC knows to be coming from Yuma, Arizona. They appear to have not confirmed a single source from that area yet, so for now, they’re recommending that all romaine from the region be tossed out. This includes whole heads, leaves, chopped salads, and chopped pieces of lettuce.

If you don’t know where your romaine lettuce is from, the CDC advises that you toss it out regardless, even if any has been eaten without any ill effects. You should also scrub your fridge where any romaine has been present.

E. Coli 0157: H7 is a particularly nasty strain of bacteria because of some of the potential diseases it causes.

Most people will feel its effects within 1-10 days of exposure, and general symptoms will include vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhea (which is often bloody).

Five to ten percent of those affected, however, can develop what’s known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. This condition appears about 7 days after symptoms begin, and impacts the kidney to the point where organ failure can occur. Those who develop HUS require hospitalization, but usually recover within a few weeks. The disease can prove to be fatal, however, making food poisoning involving E. Coli 0157:H7 even more of a concern.

For now, it’s best to avoid any romaine lettuce that comes from Yuma, Arizona, or whose origin is unknown, until more specific conclusions are reached by the CDC on this outbreak.

UPDATE: While no source has yet to be identified, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib announced in a tweet that Yuma’s lettuce season is nearing its end, meaning that any romaine lettuce likely on shelves now is from California. To be safe, though, consumers should continue to ask grocers and restaurants where their romaine comes from.

Celebrity Grub Hit-Or-Miss News

Actor Jeremy Jordan Hospitalized After Eating Chipotle, Says ‘I Almost Died’

Chipotle’s latest food poisoning scandal has finally hit Hollywood as actor Jeremy Jordan stated he was recently hospitalized after eating at the much-maligned eatery.

According to People Magazine, the “Supergirl” star posted Instagram videos of himself at the hospital November 9, saying:

“I know I’ve advocated for them in the past, but they’re terrible. I, as you can see, am in the hospital and I have fluids in my arm because the food did not agree with me, and I almost died.”

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold responded to Jordan’s claims, telling CNBC:

“We were sorry to hear Jeremy was sick and were able to get in touch with him directly regarding where and when he ate. There have been no other reported claims of illness at the restaurant where he dined. We take all claims seriously, but we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle given the details he shared with us.”

Even with Chipotle saying that there is no conclusive evidence that Chipotle was the cause of his sickness, the Mexican-ish restaurant’s stock price dropped by a whole 2.7 percent, Monday.

Chipotle’s reputation has taken a hit over the years, as several stores have been hit with Norovirus cases, and it seems that every time they try to dust themselves off, a new case surfaces.

We’ll see how they try to come back from this PR nightmare, but it might be a little tougher this time around with a notable celebrity attached to the story.

IG Screenshot via People

Fast Food News

Chipotle Is Testing A Drive-Thru, So No More Standing In Ridiculous Lines

Chipotle is finally testing a drive-thru window in one of its locations, adding convenience to the Mexican-ish fast-casual restaurant that is going through a PR nightmare at the moment.

The drive-thru is going to begin testing at a currently undisclosed Ohio location, according to Food and Wine.

Of course, since Chipotle considers itself above the typical fast-food restaurant concept, it wouldn’t dare call this a drive-thru, but is instead going with “vehicular pickup window.” (Your food gives people the shits, Chipotle. Stop acting like you’re special, and just call it a drive-thru.)

Upon first glance, a Chipotle drive-thru sounds like a godsend, as you wouldn’t have to stand in those lines, and you can order your favorite burrito in the comfort of your own car. On second thought, we’re not sure how the hell a drive-thru would work for a restaurant that requires to build your own food. It just sounds like it’s going to be hell for the employees, unless the drive-thru consists of pre-made burritos.

Of course, since this is the first test run, there aren’t talks about expanding the drive-thru, but if successful, you might see them more often. Let’s not forget that Ohio was where Chipotle has been testing its underwhelming burger concept, that has yet to expand.

Chipotle is obviously interested in jumping into the fast food realm, though it should focus on no longer getting hundreds of people sick.

Fast Food

Chipotle’s Raising Prices For The First Time Since E. Coli Outbreak

Chipotle has been walking on egg shells after an infamous E. Coli outbreak caused them to take big hits to their image, stock, and overall reputation. Since then, the price of beef went up and other restaurants slightly raised menu prices. Chipotle, however, stayed put — until now.

About 20 percent of Chipotle restaurants around the country raised their menu prices on April 11, according to Bloomberg. Their reasoning for the increase was to “offset labor inflation.”

This is the restaurant’s first price increase in three years, and is said to be about a 5 percent increase, but the fast casual restaurant reportedly doesn’t plan to implement the hike at all of its 2,200 stores.

While periodically raising prices isn’t out of the ordinary for a restaurant, it almost feel disingenuous for Chipotle to do so especially after the disastrous 2015 and 2016 they had.

Their overall sales have still been dropping, with a 4.8 percent decrease last quarter, but they’ve at least increased their shares by 1.7 percent, as recently as Monday. So as customers still aren’t all the way back, investors are starting to gain their trust a bit.

Overall, 5 percent doesn’t sound like that big of a price hike, but we’ll see how Chipotle fans respond, or if they’ll even notice.