Milwaukee area restaurants change things up to avoid E. coli outbreak

Posted at 10:12 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-28 20:01:41-04

MILWAUKEE -- One of the biggest E. coli outbreak in years now has spread to Wisconsin-- but Milwaukee area restaurants say their salads are safe to eat. 

The Center for Disease Control reported 98 people have been sickened in 22 states from romaine lettuce. Most of the people who got sick reported eating a salad at a restaurant. 

Some customers have been giving salads a second look, but they're still digging in. Some diners at Beans & Barley in Milwaukee said they cannot skip their favorite greens.

"The Beans & Barley salad, I always order it. I love it," said Elsa Herro from Fox Point.

Beans & Barley's co-owner Polly Kaplan said their romaine lettuce is safe. The restaurant even stopped selling their salads and lettuce for a day last week to make sure none of their lettuce was coming from Yuma, Arizona, where the CDC said the E. coli outbreak is believed to have originated. 

"We pulled everything, stopped production and called V. Marchese where we get the romaine from and they were able to say with certainty that it was from California," said Kaplan.

Culver's also temporarily stopped selling salads last week until it could switch to a mix without romaine. Plus, Noodles and Company suspended all their use of romaine.

At Grassroots Salad Company in Brookfield, they also still have romaine if customers want it.

"I have had a few customers ask about our romaine and I just let them know it's from California not Arizona," said Amanda Krieg who works at Grassroots Salad Company.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services Community Health Stephanie Smiley says you cannot wash the E. coli out of the lettuce. If it is from the Yuma area you need to throw it away.

"If you don't know where the lettuce has been grown you shouldn't consume it," said Stephanie Smiley, director, Bureau of Communicable Diseases, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Others said they are switching up their greens until it's over. 

"I'm more about spinach," said shopper Wendy Cantrall.