Romaine E. Coli Outbreak: FDA Identifies Source 

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Romaine E. Coli Outbreak: FDA Identifies Source 

Have you noticed the absence of romaine at your local grocery store and favorite restaurants? You’re not alone. FDA officials finally were able to crack down on the source.

November 27, 2018

Health officials have scaled back the warning about eating potentially contaminated romaine lettuce after the agencies announced it had identified the source of an E. colioutbreak.

According to a news release from November 26, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says evidence suggests the romaine linked to E. coli illnesses was harvested in the Central Coast growing areas of northern and central California.

Last week, health officials advised against eating all romaine lettuce, but now they say it’s safe to eat romaine harvested outside of those regions, according to the release.

“Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,” said Scott Gottlieb, MD, commissioner for the FDA, in a separate statement on November 26, 2018. “Hydroponically and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.”

The FDA has not yet issued a recall for the affected romaine because it doesn’t have enough trace-back information, according to the release. But for now, if a product’s label shows it was harvested and grown in northern or central California, the FDA advises retailers and consumers to not eat or use it. Romaine from outside of those regions is likely safe to eat. If you can’t determine the source of your romaine, the FDA urges against eating or using it.

To help health officials locate possible outbreak sources in the future, and to help consumers avoid possibly contaminated romaine, the FDA is urging growers, processors, and distributors to use labeling that clearly states where the romaine was grown and when it was harvested. If that’s not possible, the FDA encourages retailers to label the growing region of their romaine products, Dr. Gottlieb said in the statement.

“We hope that growers, processors, distributors, and retailers will join us in our effort to protect consumers by applying these labeling recommendations to their products,” Gottlieb adds. “We remain committed to identifying ways to decrease the incidence and impact of foodborne illness outbreaks, and will continue to provide updates on our investigation and changes to our advice on romaine lettuce as more information becomes available.”

Latest Numbers on the E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

As of November 26, a total of 43 people in the United States had been infected with E. coli and 16 had been hospitalized in 12 states. In addition, 22 people in Canada had been sickened. No deaths had been reported.

The U.S. cases have been reported in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island. One case has involved hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a life-threatening type of kidney failure.

Reports of illnesses started between October 8 and October 31, 2018.



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