Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Some romaine lettuce safe to eat again, FDA says

Some romaine lettuce safe to eat again, FDA says

The group submitted an official letter to FDA Commissioners and Directors to gain clearance on retail shelves by proposing the addition of growing regions and harvest dates to their packaging.

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 US and Canada Twenty-five people got sick - including one death and two incidents of hemolytic uremic syndrome - in 15 states.

Federal health officials said the most likely source of contamination is from the central coastal growing regions in northern and central California.

The FDA also said the market appears to have been successfully purged of potentially contaminated romaine lettuce related to the outbreak thanks to the market withdrawal request of November 20. Romaine harvesting has ended there for the year and has since shifted to winter growing regions including Florida, Mexico and desert regions in California and Arizona.

"If consumers, retailers, and food service facilities are unable to identify that romaine lettuce products are not affected - which means determining that the products were grown outside the California regions that appear to be implicated in the current outbreak investigation -we urge that these products not be purchased, or if purchased, be discarded or returned to the place of purchase", he said.

Romaine lettuce has been implicated in large and at times deadly E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks, a trend that appears to have intensified in recent years.

The agency also commended stores and restaurants nationwide for pulling romaine until investigators could figure out the source.

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The FDA said the industry committed to making the labeling standard for romaine and to consider longer-term labeling options for other leafy greens.

The updated information follows an unusually broad warning that federal health officials issued two days before Thanksgiving, telling consumers to throw away any romaine lettuce they may already have purchased.

At least 22 people in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick have been sickened in the outbreak.

You should check the labels on bags or boxes of romaine lettuce to see where it was harvested, the CDC said.

The E. coli outbreak was first identified October 8, and the onset of the last reported illness was October 31, according to the FDA.

More: Is it safe to eat romaine lettuce yet? It didn't matter if it was chopped, whole head or part of a mix. The FDA's Gottlieb has said the leading suspect is contaminated canal water used by multiple farms.

The CDC has said that these cases are genetically unrelated to another E. coli outbreak earlier this year that killed five people and sickened 200. USA investigators never specified which salad green might be to blame for those illnesses, which happened around the same time of year as the current outbreak. Eight individuals have been hospitalized, and one individual suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection.

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