YUMA, Ariz. - NBC News has confirmed Harrison Farms in Yuma, Ariz. is the source of the whole-head romaine lettuce that made eight prison inmates in Alaska sick, Federal Drug Administration's Stic Harris told reporters Friday.
Harrison Farms released a statement to News 11 following Friday's announcement by the FDA, saying:
"As a family-owned company with long standing roots in Yuma, we are heartbroken to learn that romaine lettuce from our farm has been linked to a group of individuals in Alaska sickened by E. Coli. Those impacted by this incident remain in our hearts and prayers. At this time the source of the contamination has not been identified. FDA and CDC investigation is ongoing and we have been told includes all parts of the supply chain. We are fully cooperating with both government agencies in their investigation."
"Our company has built a strong reputation of hard work and integrity over the course of many decades. We have a food safety program that meets and/or exceeds industry requirements, and our people are unequivocally passionate about it. We will continue our work with the Arizona Leafy Greens industry to learn from this situation and use the findings from this tragedy to improve our program and industry practices."
The growing season for lettuce is over in Yuma but the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they could not guarantee that the outbreak has ended.
The CDC said the E.coli outbreak has now made at least 98 people sick and more than half have been hospitalized according to federal health officials on Friday.
Officials at the CDC and the FDA said the strain of E. coli causing this outbreak is a nasty one.
Twenty-two states have reported E.coli infections linked ot the outbreak according to the CDC and FDA.
CDC'S Matt Wise said everyone should avoid eating romaine lettuce unless it's clearly not from the Yuma. NBC said this is the worst outbreak since 2006 when illnesses traced to spinach killed three and sickened more than 270 people.