Adam Bros. Farming is recalling red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and cauliflower harvested November 27-30, 2018, after sediment from the farm’s agriculture water reservoir tested positive for E. coli. The farm, owned and operated by 4th District County Supervisor Peter Adam and his brothers, Dominic, Kieran, and Richard, was identified as one of the sources for the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak announced November 20, 2018. As of December 13, the outbreak has left 59 people ill across 15 states.
The Santa Maria farm was identified as a potential contaminator after a traceback investigation was conducted. On November 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected a sediment sample from the Adams’ farm reservoir that tested positive for E. coli that genetically matched the outbreak strain. “E. coli is currently in the water or was previously, and it could get back in the water if the sediment is disturbed,” according to a CDC spokesperson.
The Adams’ farm has not shipped romaine lettuce since November 20, and it is recalling additional produce that may have been in contact with water from the reservoir. Adam Bros. Farming is cooperating with the ongoing investigation to determine how the water is being used and how E. coli ended up in the sediment of the reservoir, the FDA indicated. “The Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. feels a strong commitment to its customers and has worked for years to provide a safe and healthy food supply,” wrote the farm in a statement.
The strain identified in the sediment, E. coli 0157:H7, is found in the intestinal tracts of ruminants, said a CDC spokesperson. Multiple potential routes of contamination exist, including fecal matter from domesticated animals, wild animal intrusions, or fertilizer runoff. At this time, the route of contamination has not been identified.
While Adam Bros. contributed to the outbreak, the farm does not explain all illnesses, said the FDA. “Our traceback work suggests that additional romaine lettuce shipped from other farms could also likely be implicated in the outbreak,” wrote the FDA in a statement.
The FDA recommends not purchasing or consuming romaine lettuce harvested in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties. Romaine lettuce should be labeled with its harvest location. If that information is not available, consumers should not eat it, the FDA warned.