The Mexican government banned imports of all U.S. lettuce Monday in response to a California company's voluntary recall of some of its lettuce due to E. coli found in irrigation water.
Mexico's Health Department did say when the ban might be lifted and offered no explanation as to why the ban covers all U.S. lettuce. Nunes Co.'s recall of 8,500 cartons of lettuce Monday only applied to green leaf lettuce grown on one farm.
"Not one single head of lettuce is going to enter the country from this moment on … no type of lettuce from the United States," says Mexico's commissioner of health promotion, Luis Alfonso Caso.
The Health Department ordered that U.S. lettuce be removed from shelves and told Mexicans not to eat any lettuce imported from the U.S.
All but 250 cartons of Nunes' Foxy brand lettuce had been tracked down as of Monday morning. The recall came after routine tests of irrigation water turned up E. coli bacteria. No E. coli has been found in the lettuce so far, and it is not yet clear whether or not the bacteria in the water is the same strain that made almost 200 ill in a recent spinach contamination, or the less dangerous generic E. coli.
The remaining cartons are believed to be in supermarkets or restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.