Lettuce producers are preparing a label change, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Dole Fresh Vegetables, Taylor Farms, and Fresh Express, among others, sent a letter to the FDA on Sunday promising to include where lettuce was grown and when it was harvested on the labels.
The WSJ reviewed a draft of the letter, which said, “This labeling is a significant change and may not be easy to implement, but we are committing to using it immediately.” The information would be added to packaged lettuce sold to consumers or provided to retailers for display in the case of unpackaged lettuce, and would be provided to food-service customers like restaurants.
The current E. coli outbreak is the third one related to romaine lettuce this year. Given the difficulties of tracing the lettuce, the CDC’s advice was not to eat any lettuce at all. The lettuce industry has been at a standstill since last week.
Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA, said on Twitter on Friday that the romaine implicated in the current outbreak is “likely” from California. In the same thread, he said “We’re working with growers and distributors on labeling produce for location and harvest date and possibly other ways of informing consumers that the product is “post-purge.”” He added: “One goal we’re seeking is to make this type of labeling the new standard rather than a short-term fix.”