After the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control warned earlier this week that persons should not eat romaine lettuce, as it may be contaminated with E. coli, a local farmer is hoping to fill the gap by selling the vegetable to anyone who is interested.
According to Dr. Selima Hauber, a horticulturist for the Field to Fork Farming Company, Bahamians still have the option of purchasing home-grown romaine lettuce from her farm.
“We are able to keep great control over our production and it is beneficial to them [the consumer] because they can talk to me directly. We are happy to ensure that our consumers are confident that what they are getting is fresh and delicious,” Hauber said.
Since the CDC’s warning in the United States, 32 people, including 13 who have been hospitalized, have been infected with the E. coli outbreak strain in 11 states, according to the CDC, but no deaths have been reported.
A statement released Wednesday from the Ministry of Health advised that the E.coli bacteria can cause serious illness which may be severe enough to cause death in those with compromised immune systems. The Ministry recommended that any and all types of romaine lettuce that has not been grown in your backyard should be thrown out.
The horticulturist explained that the E.coli outbreak involving Romaine lettuce could have happened anywhere and local farms are not exempt. She did state, however, that larger farms have a greater risk of producing an infected crop.
“The farmers who were watering their fields may have watered it with contaminated water,” Hauber surmised. “It’s also likely that there was an animal or livestock operation nearby and the waste of the livestock operation somehow could have contaminated the vegetables on the farm. It’s also very likely that farmers did not follow good hygiene practices.”
Hauber is present at the weekly farmers market on Gladstone Road.
Common symptoms of E. Coli and Salmonella infection include abdominal pain (cramping), nausea, vomiting and/or loose stools within hours to days after consuming contaminated food.