Lettuce Now Praise Other Types of Greens?

Consumers embrace iceberg and Boston lettuce as romaine is off the table.



A head of iceberg lettuce, cut in half. Isolated on white.

Photo by: kaanates


Breathe, everyone. The great E. coli-induced romaine-lettuce panic of 2018 seems to be abating, with headlines now urging everyone to “Romaine Calm” and “Lettuce Try Not to Panic.”

After first issuing a blanket warning on November 20 advising people not to eat romaine lettuce -- of any sort and from any place -- due to an outbreak of E. coli that had at that point sickened 32 people in 11 states, the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have narrowed their warning, advising that consumers in the United States “not eat and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any romaine lettuce harvested from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. If you do not know where the romaine is from, do not eat it.”

A new push toward clearer labeling should help.

“Romaine lettuce products will be labeled with a harvest location by region. It may take some time before these labels are available,” the CDC wrote in its advice to consumers, restaurants and retailers. “If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it.”

As consumers and restaurants try to sort things out with safety in mind, one entity seems to be reaping benefits from the scare: iceberg lettuce.

“Iceberg lettuce prices soar as much as 168% after E. coli outbreak takes romaine off shelves,” a CNBC headline trumpeted on November 29.

Demand for iceberg lettuce also exceeded supply, CNBC reported, noting, too, that the price of other non-romaine salad greens, like Boston, red leaf and green leaf lettuces, also saw rising prices as supply struggled to meet with newly surging demand.

Meanwhile, restaurants and retailers are expected to move toward restocking romaine from locales deemed safe. But, Trevor Suslow, the vice president of food safety for the Produce Marketing Association, told CNBC that even as they do, romaine suppliers “that are following the new labeling recommendations are commanding a very high price.”

So even if, in the long run, this isn’t the fall of the romaine empire, now may be a good time to embrace spinach.

Photo: iStock

Next Up

Types of Flour for Holiday Baking

We asked baking expert and Sweet Genius host Ron Ben-Israel for the low-down on the different types of flour you might come across in baking recipes this holiday season.

3 Sizzling Wine Types for Barbecue

The aromatherapy of summer is the sweet perfume of a fired-up grill, accompanied by wine that complements whatever happens to be sizzling and smoking above the coals.

Holiday Baking Prep: Types of Wheat Flours

The holidays are fast approaching and it will soon be time to get baking. Do the various types of flours in recipes or the baking aisle confuse you? You’re not alone.

3 Sizzling Wine Types for BBQ — Outsmarting Wine

Fire up the grill and try these wines with hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken and more.

POLL: What Are Your Favorite Types of Candy?

Help Food Network Magazine with their trick-or-treat research and tell FN Dish which candies you look forward to most on the big night.

Diet 101: Blood Type Diets

Is the secret to weight loss success determined by your blood type? If you ask some blood-type diet fans, yes. If you ask us, doubtful. Learn more about one of the latest diet crazes.