Romaine Lettuce Growers Are Adding Safety Labels to Assure Shoppers It's Safe to Eat

iStock.com/GomezDavid
iStock.com/GomezDavid

On Tuesday, November 20, the CDC urged produce sellers and consumers to toss out all romaine lettuce in light of a nationwide E. coli outbreak. The contaminated produce has since been traced back to farms on the Central California Coast, which means romaine grown elsewhere is officially safe to eat again. If you're still hesitant to add the lettuce to your grocery list, USA Today reports that some growers have begun adding labels to assure shoppers their products are E. coli-free.

The new, temporary labels are being adopted by lettuce growers in California and southern Arizona. They state where the lettuce was grown and the date it was harvested, differentiating it from the contaminated romaine grown in central and northern California during the end of the summer growing season. The safety labels aren't mandatory, but by using them, growers have convinced federal health agencies to end the nationwide warning against all romaine lettuce.

The E. coli strain that was identified—E. coli O157:H7—is a potentially deadly strain of the bacteria that can sometimes cause kidney failure. Though no one has died from the outbreak, 43 people have gotten sick from it so far, with 16 ending up in the hospital and one developing kidney failure in the U.S.

"It was critically important to have a 'clean break' in the romaine supply available to consumers in the U.S. in order to purge the market of potentially contaminated romaine lettuce related to the current outbreak," the FDA wrote in a press release. Now that the growing season has ended in the region connected to the outbreak, your chances of picking up contaminated romaine from the grocery store are slim, but you can always wait for the labeled bags to start appearing in the produce section if you need extra reassurance.

[h/t USA Today]

Why You Shouldn't Buy Your Cereal at Costco

iStock.com/RapidEye
iStock.com/RapidEye

Scoring deals at Costco is an art. Smart shoppers know which price tag codes to look for and which delivery deals to take advantage of at the bulk discount store. But when it comes to navigating the food section, there are some tips even longtime members may not know about. A big one concerns brand-name breakfast cereal: When shopping for groceries at Costco, you should leave the cereal boxes out of your cart if you want to save money, according to Yahoo! Finance.

It doesn't make sense to buy perishable items in bulk, but even products with a slightly longer expiration date, like cereal, can end up costing you in the long run if you stock up on them at Costco. The cereal at Costco costs about $0.17 per ounce, which is comparable to the cereal prices you'd find at regular grocery stores on most days. But to reap the most savings possible, you need to visit the supermarket on days when certain cereal brands go on sale.

During different times of the week—usually weekends—many grocery stores will pick a popular cereal brand, like Kellogg's or General Mills, to sell at a lower price. At their cheapest, brand-name cereals can be purchased for $0.13 cents per ounce on sale days, or $1.50 for an 11-ounce box.

While you may be better off buying your boxed breakfast staples at the nearest grocery store, there are still plenty of reasons to shop at Costco. To many loyalists, their $1.50 hot dog and soda combo alone is worth a special trip. The store's addictive pizza slices (which are perfectly sauced by a pie-making robot) and dirt-cheap and delicious rotisserie chickens are yet two more reasons. Just be prepared to show your receipt when you're all done (and don't for a second believe it's because the employees think you might have pocketed something). 

[h/t Yahoo! Finance]

A Shrine to Brine: The Mysterious Case of Missouri's Highway Pickle Jar

iStock.com/MorePixels
iStock.com/MorePixels

No one knows how it started. No one knows who was responsible. Some may even have dismissed it as an aberration, a glitch in the scenery that would soon be corrected. But eventually, drivers in and around Des Peres, Missouri who took a highway off-ramp connecting I-270 North to Manchester Road began to notice that a jar of pickles was sitting on a dividing barrier on the ramp. And it wasn’t going anywhere.

Since 2012, the pickle jar has confounded drivers and internet sleuths alike, according to Atlas Obscura. Some have speculated that someone was trying to send a secret message or share a private joke. Perhaps someone pulling off to the side due to car trouble felt the need to place the brine-filled jar on the concrete wall and then forgot about it. Maybe someone thought it would be a kind of three-dimensional graffiti, incongruous amid the bustling traffic. Maybe it’s an indictment of commerce.

Whatever the case, once the pickles appeared, advocates refused to let them go. Jars that end up toppled over or otherwise damaged are replaced. Sometimes they reappear in protective Tupperware or with a holiday-themed bow. Sightings are photographed for posterity and posted on a Facebook fan page devoted to the jar, which currently has over 4200 members and has morphed from a place to theorize about the mysterious jar's origins to a place where people swap pickle-related recipes and stories.

There are dry spells—no one has posted of a pickle sighting in several months—but followers remain optimistic the jar will continue to remain a presence in Des Peres even if the motivation for placing them near the roadway remains as murky as the briny juice inside.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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