The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, as well as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA), to investigate an outbreak of E. coli infections in Ontario, Quebec New Brunswick, and several U.S. states. Health officials on Monday, Nov. 26, said it's OK to eat some romaine lettuce again.
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. "At the time of the outbreak, the vast majority of the romaine on the market was being grown in the Central Coast region of California".
If it's from the winter-growing regions of the USA - the California desert region of the Imperial Valley, the desert region of Arizona in and around Yuma and Florida - it's fine, since people started getting sick before these regions started shipping out their product. Investigators are using evidence collected in both outbreaks to help identify the possible cause of the contamination in these events. The agency narrowed its warning to romaine from California's Central Coast after the produce industry agreed to label romaine with harvest dates and regions, so people know what's OK to eat.
A total of 32 people have been infected with E.coli from eating the romaine lettuce in 11 states, according to the CDC. Since romaine has a shelf life of about 21 days, health officials said last week they believed contaminated romaine could still be on the market or in people's homes. The FDA also noted hydroponically grown romaine and romaine grown in greenhouses aren't implicated in the outbreak. An industry group said people can expect to start seeing labels as early as this week. The people who have gotten sick recently because of the same outbreak have also been observed to be infected with the similar fingerprint, as far as the recent E. coli strain which infected quite a few people past year, is considered.
At least 22 people in Ontario Quebec and New Brunswick have been sickened in the outbreak
To date, there have been 43 confirmed illnesses in 12 states, with 16 people hospitalized and no deaths, according to FDA.
The E. coli outbreak announced just before Thanksgiving follows one in the spring that sickened more than 200 people and killed five, and another a year ago that sickened 25 and killed one. Since romaine is often chopped up and bagged, a single contaminated batch from one farm that skips testing could make a lot of people sick, he said.
States affected by the E.coli outbreak include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Industry leaders are hoping that federal officials will ultimately be able to tailor their warning to consumers and retailers to clear regions like Yuma from being implicated in the current outbreak.