Only Romaine from Central and Northern California is unsafe, FDA says

Pearl Mccarthy
December 3, 2018

Scott Gottlieb says the source of the E. coli contamination has been isolated and stores will soon begin restocking their shelves.

The U.S. Food and Drug administration on Monday gave the all clear to consume romaine lettuce from Arizona, Florida, Mexico and California's Imperial Valley.

The particular strain of E. coli discovered in romaine lettuce produces Shiga toxins, which are among the most potent toxins known to exist, and which can lead to severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea.

Leafy greens were also blamed for an E. coli outbreak previous year. Twenty-five of those experiencing symptoms were interviewed, and 22 reported having eaten Romaine lettuce in the days leading up to the onset of their illness.

After posting the advisory Tuesday, the FDA investigated the outbreak over the Thanksgiving holiday period.

Several students said they observed what appeared to be romaine lettuce in Warren Towers' dining hall Sunday night, but Riley said the only lettuce served at that time were green leaf, iceberg and spring mix.

Empty store shelves after a nationwide E-coli outbreak prompted the disposal of all romaine produce products at the Smart & Final grocery in Newport Beach California on Nov 21 2018
Some romaine lettuce safe to eat again, FDA says

Last week, the FDA said the strain of E. coli O157:H7 causing the current outbreak is genetically link to the strain the caused an outbreak last fall in the USA and Canada Twenty-five people got sick - including one death and two incidents of hemolytic uremic syndrome - in 15 states.

"Romaine as a category has had a year that's been unfortunate", Whitaker said. Health officials on Monday, Nov. 26, said it's OK to eat some romaine lettuce again.

The leafy greens industry agreed to establish a task force for solutions for long-term labeling of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens.

Earlier this year, the situation was almost reversed: Some in the industry started putting stickers on product saying the lettuce was from California to differentiate from the Yuma region, though officials weren't able to pinpoint the problem to Yuma until right at the end of the season. An additional 18 people have become sick from the same strain of E.coli in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

However, according to CDC, 32 illnesses have been reported from 11 states, including 13 people who have been hospitalized. As no contaminated product has been found in the marketplace and the source of the contamination has not been identified, there have been no product recalls in Canada or the U.S associated with this outbreak. But Canadian officials identified romaine as a common source of illnesses in Canada. It said romaine from elsewhere should soon be labelled with harvest dates and regions so people know it's safe to eat. Leafy greens, such as lettuce, can become contaminated in the field by soil, water, animals or improperly composted manure.

It is hard to know whether a product is contaminated with E. coli because you can't see, smell or taste it. Romaine lettuce can have a shelf life of up to five weeks, and therefore it is possible that contaminated romaine lettuce purchased over the past few weeks may still be in your home.

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