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Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak traced to Santa Maria farm

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The recent multi-state E. coli outbreak that had people tossing out romaine lettuce since Thanksgiving has been partially traced to a farm in Santa Barbara County.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday that their trace-back investigation led them to Adam Brothers Family Farms, a vegetable grower in Santa Maria.

The Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria strain found on site was matched to the outbreak strain through genome sequencing. It’s still unknown why the bacteria, which is associated with animal waste, was found at the farm. The FDA said the farm is cooperating fully.

On Thursday, Adam Bros. issued a press releasesaying it is voluntarily recalling other vegetables—red and green lettuce and cauliflower—grown on the farm.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department said it's had no local reported cases of illness connected to this outbreak.

Even though investigators made a genetic match between samples taken on the farm and the strain that sickened 59 people, officials say it’s likely not the only source. The FDA said its possible additional romaine lettuce from other Central Coast farms could also be implicated in the outbreak, so the agency is still advising people avoid eating romaine grown in Santa Barbara County.

However, the FDA said romaine grown in San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties is now safe, as long as it was harvested after November 23, 2018.

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