Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Lettuce recall has families searching for substitutes


November 28, 2018

A nationwide recall of romaine lettuce two days before Thanksgiving sent some households, food suppliers and restaurants in Quay County scrambling to throw it out and find a salad substitute.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a food-safety alert about romaine the afternoon of Nov. 20 because of an outbreak of E.coli in 11 states, but not New Mexico.

“CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak,” the alert stated. “Consumers who have any ... romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.”

The agency said the particular strain of E.coli found in the outbreak has been linked to cases of kidney failure.

Veronica Encinias, store manager of the Lowe’s grocery in Tucumcari, said she and her staff threw out about $400 worth of lettuce the afternoon of the recall.

“We got phone calls from corporate, and we had to stop immediately what we were doing and remove the lettuce,” she said.

She said the purge not only affected individual heads and bags of romaine lettuce, but lettuce blends that included it.

Encinias said Lowe’s offers iceberg lettuce as a substitute.

She said the store offered refunds of romaine, even without the receipt, if customers brought in the food item.

Cabrera Brown, manager of the Pow Wow Inn Restaurant in Tucumcari, said the romaine lettuce there also was discarded the same day.

She said the recall didn’t greatly affect the restaurant’s salad bar or other meals.

“We didn’t use much romaine,” she said. “We didn’t order a large quantity. We use mostly iceberg.”

Joe Kelly, manager at K-Bob’s Steakhouse in Tucumcari, said the recall didn’t affect his restaurant because it stopped using romaine in meals and its salad bar four months ago.

“It was more cost-effective not to have it,” he said, explaining the phase-out.

Yvette Peacock, co-owner of Del’s Restaurant and Kix on 66, both in Tucumcari, stated in a post on Facebook both restaurants did not use romaine.

“If you dine at other restaurants, be sure they do not serve you Romaine,” she wrote.

Romaine lettuce had been on the menu for several days this month at Tucumcari Public Schools. Aaron McKinney, schools superintendent, stated in an email Monday that A'viands, the district’s food-service contractor, has "elected to stop ordering and using romaine of any kind until further notice. Locally, our kitchens will be substituting with iceburg and green leaf varieties of lettuce.”


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