The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigations have linked an E. coli outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in areas in California.
The Hawai`i Department of Health and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture have re-emphasizes that there is no reason to avoid Hawai`i-grown lettuce and other produce and, in fact, purchasing local produce at this time would help to strengthen Hawai`i’s food security.
“This most recent contamination outbreak underscores the importance of all industry members throughout the supply chain to follow a labeling program for their produce,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “Produce labeled with grower information and harvest date will help communicate to consumers that produce being re-introduced into retail and foodservice markets is safe to consume. A standardized approach to produce labeling is one mechanism to ensure consumers have access to locally grown romaine that was not implicated in the outbreak.”
HDOA continues to work on Governor David Ige’s initiative to double local food production by 2020. Hawai`i consumers play a critical role in helping to achieve this goal which will not only bolster our agricultural industries, but also our local economy as a whole. In addition, the support of local wholesalers and retailers is key to providing local produce to the community. By purchasing local produce identified by growing location and a harvest date, we hope consumers will continue to eat fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet.
HDOA, DOH and the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service also reminds consumers to thoroughly wash all produce before consuming – no matter where it comes from. Links to food safety information and resources are available by clicking here.