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.

Grocery Opinion

Why Lettuce Should Be Eradicated From The Face Of The Earth

“Lettuce should be eradicated from the face of the earth.”

Those were the words embedded in my mind following a conversation I had with fellow Foodbeast and full-time Hispanic heartthrob Isai Rocha. We were talking about burrito bowl spots like Chipotle and Qdoba, and how neither of us ever order lettuce on top. To us, on those bowls, it’s useless. Simply put, lettuce adds no flavor or significant nutrition to the meal, and you can get that same crunch (or better) out of other offerings both chains have.

We might as well just wipe out lettuce altogether. Come to think of it, why is lettuce still around if this is how we feel about it?

I wanted to see what the rest of the Foodbeast squad thought, and opened it up for discussion within our Slack channel.
I was hoping to get some interesting feedback on my take as well as some differing insights. What I didn’t expect was for the entire office to devolve into a ferocious debate over lettuce, of all things. Below are a few of the highlights:

Just from the above banter, it’s clear this fast food afterthought has the potential to be as polarizing as pineapple on pizza. When did something as basic as lettuce become so controversial? Who knows, but our reactions were visceral on both sides, with arguments leaving us wondering whether lettuce still deserves its role as the generic green veggie.

While I think it’s trash, let’s give it a fair trial in vegetable court.

One has to look at lettuce to see if it’s anything beyond a simplistic garnish, or if we just eat it because we’re so used to it. That could help us see if lettuce indeed still has a place in today’s food supply, or if we should just let the rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs of the world enjoy the surplus.

Photo: Dwight Sipler // Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0

The Power of Crunch

There’s two extremes when it comes to the texture of lettuce: a watery crunch or a soggy tear. Neither of those sound appetizing, but there’s a reason lettuce is basically just “crispy water.” I’ve always seen it as the latter because of how easily lettuce shrivels on hot foods like burgers and tacos. But for those who enjoy lettuce, the crunch makes those foods complete, and the afterthought suddenly becomes important.

It’s the perfect example of the love-hate relationship we have with lettuce: We either enjoy the crunch, or hate the sogginess.

Lettuce Nutrition

Let’s be real with the leafy veg: it doesn’t add any significant nutrition anywhere. In fact, a total cup of lettuce contains just 10 calories and only adds in a noteworthy amount of vitamin K. While that sounds cool, literally every other leafy green vegetable does the same while adding more calories AND a wider variety of micronutrients. Even celery, which you lose calories just by consuming, has more nutritional value. You hear that, lettuce? Even. Celery.

Sure, you can make the argument that for satiety reasons, lettuce is nice. But for that, there’s also celery and a load of other greens that help as well, since fiber can fill the stomach.

The Future Of Lettuce

As we move to a sustainable future of food, it’s not just the environmental footprint of meats that we have to look at. Several vegetables, including lettuce, are resource guzzlers as well. Lettuce is particularly exhaustive because of its high water content, difficulty to grow, harvest, and transport, and its relatively large energy requirement. It’s the newborn baby of garden vegetables.

Everything from onions, okra, carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables have significantly better footprints. That means the tradeoff to getting it on our burgers and salads, is asking the planet to drain a lot more of its resources for nutrition It’s not worth it, if you ask me, but lettuce lovers may think otherwise.

Is Lettuce Replaceable?

I get why lettuce is so important to us and what it’s become to society. It’s the base of our salads, a key part of the iconic BLT, and is used across the board in fast food. That’s not to say that lettuce is necessary in that role, but it has become the ubiquitous vegetable topping to just about everything.

Is it replaceable in that regard? Absolutely, and looking into alternatives like spinach or even cucumbers could help improve the micronutrients we get in our diets while adding extra flavor and the same amount of crunch. And save the planet, might I add.

For those that enjoy having lettuce in their food, I can see why it’s so hard to break away from what we know to go together. But lettuce simply doesn’t provide enough value to the modern consumer for it to stick around.

Sorry, lettuce, but you’ve been chopped.

Health News Now Trending

Deadly Romaine Lettuce Outbreak Has Food Safety Experts Saying ‘Do Not Eat’

A deadly romaine lettuce outbreak is sweeping across the U.S. and Canada right now, and some food safety experts are encouraging people to avoid the leafy vegetable for the time being.

romaine lettuce outbreak

According to Consumer Reports, the outbreak has already infected 58 people in 13 states and Canada. Affected states include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state. The Centers for Disease Control reports that of those 58 sick, five were hospitalized and one person has died. Another death linked to romaine has been confirmed in Canada, according to Food Safety News.

While the FDA and CDC are still investigating, Canadian health authorities have identified romaine lettuce as the outbreak source, and E. Coli 0157:H7 as the pathogen in question. This bacteria can cause something known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which can lead to serious illnesses, kidney failure, and even death.

The CDC has genetically matched the E. Coli affecting people in the US to the bacteria responsible for the same outbreak in Canada. They have stopped short of recommending that people avoid romaine lettuce, however.

However, James Rogers, PhD. (Consumer Report’s food safety and research director) is favoring the side of caution on this one.

“Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that romaine lettuce is almost always consumed raw.”

Nobody has identified a single source of the potentially contaminated lettuce yet, so Consumer Reports says that folks should assume that all romaine lettuce poses an E. Coli risk until everything is sorted out. Until then, they recommend avoiding romaine lettuce products, including any already in your fridges plus salad mixes that contain the leafy vegetable.

Health News Technology

Researchers Develop New Method To Kill Norovirus In Prepared Food


Norovirus – one of the most notorious food-borne pathogens on the entire planet. We know it as “the cruise ship virus” because of it’s ability to spread rapidly in confined areas. It’s the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States, affecting over 20 million people per year. Norovirus is incredibly hard to detect and even harder to kill.

However, new research out of The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities may have just made taking out this pesky virus a little bit easier.

The method that Dr. Hamada Aboubakr and his team developed involves the usage of an ionized gas generated by cold plasma. The “cold plasma treatment,” as it was called, was utilized on contaminated stainless steel surfaces and romaine lettuce leaves for five minutes, wiping out 99% of the norovirus particles on both.

As of now, methods to kill norovirus include bleach and extensive cleaning – both of which occur after a population has been infected. Cooking food thoroughly kills norovirus in raw food – but most infections occur as a result of contamination on food that’s cooked or prepped already, such as on cruise ships. No method exists yet to kill norovirus contaminations in that regard, meaning this cold plasma method could be the first.

This research, which was presented at this month’s meeting of the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats, could be utilized to kill norovrius on cruise ships, produce aisles, and restaurants across the United States. While it can’t prevent contamination from occurring when a pre-infected individual touches the food, the cold plasma gas can kill norovirus particles left behind.

While it’s not ready for commercial food use yet, research should continue to grow as the plasma method will be tested on other produce items and developed for usage on cruise ships and other places susceptible to norovirus contamination.

Dr. Aboubakr’s novel method should definitely decrease the amount of norovirus infections in the United States by a significant margin, dealing a huge blow to one of the nastiest food-borne pathogens out there.


Japan Created The World’s First Robot Farm And Here’s What It Can Do


Japan is really pushing forward with robotics. First, we got the pancake flipper, then the Sushi Robot and now a farm that’s fully operated by automatons will soon make its debut.

Tech Insider reports that Spread, a lettuce production company, will have a farm that only hires robots to harvest lettuce. About 30,000 heads of lettuce will be ready for shipment every day, reportedly. That’s nearly 11 million a year.

The machines, however, will be more like conveyor belts with arms attached than the cybernetic farmers we were picturing in our heads. Ah well, it’s probably for the best.

Scheduled to open in 2017, Spread’s Kameoka Plant will increase productivity. The robotic farm will also reduce labor costs by 50 percent, cut energy consumption by 30 percent and use 98 percent recycled water for the crops.

All these benefits will potentially lower costs for consumers, said a spokesperson for Spread.

Spread’s robotic farm is set to open sometime next year.


Guessing Lettuce Burger and Protein Burger Are Two Different Things


Picthx xlittlewolf


Hamburger Crocs Are GQ-Worthy Food Swag


It takes a strong individual to be willing to wear Crocs in public. For the shameless food lover who couldn’t give a rat’s derriere what people think, Japan just launched a collection of hamburger-styled rubber sandals that really do manage to be more garish than the original.

With a light brown rubber upper and two wavy layers of red “ketchup,”  green “lettuce,” and dark brown “beef” inner and midsoles, the Crocband Hamburger Clogs will be available starting tomorrow from the Crocs Japan online store. There are even special mini burger, french fry, and soda Jibbitz to help you really up the something-something ante.


$49 buys yours. Fries and soda, sadly extra.

H/T + PicThx Nerdalicious