The illnesses started appearing in late March. Here and there, across the country, people were checking themselves in to hospitals, sick from toxic E. coli bacteria. At least 200 people got sick. Five of them died.
Investigators quickly identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak, but have had trouble pinpointing the cause for months. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has a theory for how E. coli ended up on that lettuce. According to the FDA, it probably came from a large cattle feedlot at one end of a valley near Yuma, Ariz., which is one of the country’s biggest lettuce-growing areas.
The finding has put lettuce growers in Yuma in a tough spot. The feedlot has been their neighbor for many years. Some vegetable farmers are wondering whether they can still co-exist with all those cattle nearby