The Latest Romaine Lettuce Recall Is Due To – Wait For It – Deer Poop

Just two years ago, the slogan "Fear the Deer" was used by the Milwaukee Bucks as they capped off a triumphant season by bringing home the NBA Championship trophy (and introducing the nation to charming Chick-fil-A fan Giannis Antetokounmpo). This summer, however, those words take on a far more sinister and yucky meaning as deer poop — yep, the kind expelled from Bambi's back end — has been linked to the latest round of lettuce recalls.

Got romaine in the fridge? Or even a salad blend containing that kind of lettuce? If you purchased the product in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, or Wisconsin, you may not want to use it, lest you wind up with a scat salad. Food Safety News reports that 11,500 pounds of romaine lettuce grown by the G.O. Corporation of Minneapolis are being recalled and, while we don't have all the dirty details from the farmers involved, we do know that ungulate excrement lies at the root of this problem.

Poopy poisonings are no laughing matter

The likely culprit in many cases of food poisoning linked to deer poop — or any other type of fecal matter, for that matter — is E. coli. These bacteria reside in the intestines of animals (including humans), and a certain amount comes out when we poo. Not only are farmers' fields full of John Deeres, but they may also serve as deer johns, as well. Plus, there may be even more brown on the ground if the fields are also home to grazing cattle or other farm animals.

While most E. coli bacteria don't cause serious illness — according to Mayo Clinic — certain strains can cause severe digestive distress. Additionally, in extreme (though rare) cases, this infection can even prove fatal. In 2006, E. coli-contaminated spinach sickened 200 people, and three of them died as a result. The following year, growers of lettuce and other leafy greens in the state of California adopted strict regulations to prevent such an event from occurring again, but to no avail. Romaine lettuce recalls keep happening, because of E. coli contaminations like those in 2018 and 2019, which were linked to feedlot contamination. Meanwhile, this most recent recall involves animals that roam where they will and relieve themselves as they must. There's really no easy way to regulate that since a deer's going to do what a deer's going to do.