What are the Most Common Reasons for a Lettuce Recall?

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  • Written By: Janis Adams
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Lettuce is recalled when it is known to be carrying a food-borne disease. Recalls of a product or a vegetable are done when there is a recognized potential for a possible health risk. While there are a number of food-borne diseases common to lettuce, it is most often recalled from public consumption due to the presence of the Escherichia coli O145 bacteria, more commonly known as E. coli. Another common reason for a lettuce recall is the possibility of a salmonella contamination.

Both E. coli and salmonella can be introduced to lettuce by contact with a water source. Contaminated water pooling or sitting close to where the lettuce is grown can cause lettuce to carry these food-borne diseases. If the water that the lettuce is washed or sprayed with has bacteria contained within it, the lettuce will also be contaminated. This contamination will constitute a lettuce recall.

Contamination with E. coli bacteria, a justifiable reason for a lettuce recall, can cause mild symptoms, such as gastrointestinal distress. It can also cause acute symptoms, which can include debilitating abdominal cramps and unrelenting diarrhea, which may be bloody. Most healthy adults can recover from this bacteria infection within approximately a week. Some patients, however, may progress to serious complications, such as kidney damage. These complications are seen in the elderly and in young children.


Salmonella poisoning is evidenced by severe abdominal cramping. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common with this type of poisoning. While these symptoms commonly can be easily treated, without proper treatment these symptoms can lead to severe dehydration and even death. Salmonella is often referred to as food poisoning. The suspected presence of salmonella will warrant a lettuce recall.

A lettuce recall, also known as a market withdrawal, in the United States does not mean that the lettuce is contaminated; it simply states that there may be the possibility of a food-borne contaminant present. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for all foods, and that means that all produce, including lettuce, must meet the government's strict regulations. The FDA samples lettuce to ensure that before it reaches the hands of consumers it is found to be free of food-borne contaminants. While the FDA is diligent at attempting to forestall outbreaks of food-borne diseases, consumers are still advised to wash all lettuce before eating it. This aids in preventing illness even when there has not been a lettuce recall.


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Post 2

Growing your own lettuce is one way to have more control over what you eat. I realize this is not always an option for many people. I like to take advantage of farmers markets and roadside stand whenever I have the chance. Of course, there are never any guarantees with that either.

Whether is is recalled lettuce or some other kind of food, it does make you stop and think about the way our food is grown, and how it gets to us from across the country. I have really tried to buy local as much as possible.

Health food stores and markets are another alternative and more of them seem to be available than ever before. We have some great health markets in our local grocery stores that were not there a few years ago.

Post 1

I have heard that lettuce is one of the most important vegetables to wash before eating. I know that you should wash all fruits and vegetables, but some even more so than others.

We had a recent recall on romaine lettuce, which is one that I buy quite often. It makes you wonder how safe it is sometimes - especially when you eat out in a restaurant. Salmonella can cause some pretty bad symptoms no matter where the source comes from. Always be sure and wash your lettuce.

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