Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

E. coli outbreak may be linked to romaine lettuce

Julian Howatt weight romaine lettuce he grows hydroponically at his Moncton indoor farm Local by Atta. He said he's been getting calls about romaine lettuce since Health Canada issued a warning in December E. coli outbreak may be linked to romaine lettuce
Carol Daniels | 05 January, 2018, 13:43

According to the CDC, five people in the USA have been hospitalized and one has died.

One patient there died, and an additional 17 have been hospitalized.

Consumer Reports pressured the CDC and FDA to do more to protect shoppers, but the produce was still on US grocery store shelves Thursday. Five people have been hospitalized in the U.S., and the cases are spread over 13 states, from California to Vermont and from Washington state to Virginia.

In the USA, government health officials are investigating the outbreaks, but have stopped short of recommending people avoid romaine lettuce or any other food.

That's because officials in Canada have not determined the exact source of the romaine lettuce involved in the E. coli outbreak.

Until a food source in the U.S. outbreak has identified, food safety experts quoted in a Consumer Reports story yesterday advised consumers to temporarily avoid romaine lettuce.

The outbreak has killed one person in each country and sickened at least 58 people, Consumer Reports said.

Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, said the US Food and Drug Administration should follow Canada's example and immediately warn the public about the potential risk from romaine lettuce. The CDC is now interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week prior to getting sick.

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The illnesses were reported in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington. Health officials assess all of these data to try to find the likely source of the outbreak.

"This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available", the CDC said.

NBC reported that it could take weeks to to track down the source of an outbreak because most food is shipped to central locations from various farms, where it is processed, packaged and redistributed.

Another possibility is that the E. coli strain causing illness in the United States is actually slightly different from the strain in Canada.

Consumer Reports said people should err on the side of caution and throw out romaine lettuce.

Although P.E.I. was not included in the latest advisory, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer, Heather Morrison, said Islanders who want to consume romaine lettuce should make sure they are washing their lettuce thoroughly before eating it.

"Do not buy romaine lettuce and don't use any that you may have in your refrigerator until there is more information on the source of contamination".

"Avoiding just romaine may or may not be enough", because other lettuces or foods could also be affected, Chapman told Live Science.

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