PGI receives romaine from new growing region to ensure customer safety
By Kelsey Schaefer
Since pulling all romaine lettuce from facilities on Nov. 23 after a recall due to concerns of E. coli contamination, the culinary staff at Red River College officially reintroduced the leafy green to their kitchens on Monday, Dec. 3.
Jonathan Royal, chef and manager for food services at RRC’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute and the Notre Dame Campus, said that removing the product was necessary for the sake of customer concerns.
“We wanted to ensure that our customers felt safe in the fact that we were addressing the problem by pulling the product from our outlets,” said Royal.
Pratts Food Service, PGI’s main vendor, confirmed with Royal that none of its suppliers had been contacted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regarding romaine concerns. Royal said that despite this assurance, the RRC staff still felt the need to remove the lettuce from its kitchens.
Mike Licharson, 21, is a student at PGI whose class had just begun its unit on salads and salad dressings when the recalls on romaine were first announced.
“Everything was removed from the fridges. [We] didn’t get any type of information about it,” said Mike. “We just came back in one day and it was all done.”
Royal and his staff made sure that all romaine was immediately disposed of, utensils and equipment were thoroughly sanitized and menu items containing the vegetable were modified.
The RRC kitchens used spinach and other types of lettuce for salads and wraps until Monday.
Royal said that Pratts is now receiving a new batch of romaine lettuce from an entirely different growing region. Joe Poudrette, a Pratts sales representative, said that the need for a switch was not related to E. coli concerns.
“There has never been an official recall by the CFIA,” said Poudrette. “We simply switched because the growing season ended.”
Romaine lettuce harvested from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California were potentially contaminated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A final update on the outbreak was released by the Public Health Agency of Canada on June 22, 2018, which stated that the source of contamination for the eight Canadian E. coli cases was not officially identified.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the last shipments of potentially infected romaine lettuce were harvested on April 16, 2018. Contaminated lettuce that caused this outbreak should no longer be available.