October 31, 2014

Ohio E. coli Outbreak In Hamilton County, Leafy Greens Suspected

An E. coli outbreak likely caused by leafy greens has sickened five people in Hamilton County, Ohio, Food Poisoning Bulletin has learned. The outbreak was confirmed this morning by  Mike Samet, a public information officer, for the county’s public health department.

spinach-spring-mix-e-coliThere are five confirmed cases and one probable case of  E. coli 0157:H7 infection which were likely caused by tainted leafy greens, he said. The case patients, four females and two males, range in age from 12 to 83 and first showed signs of illness from December 10 to December 15, 2012.

“If, indeed, leafy greens are the source, it’s ironic that this outbreak occurred just days before proposed rules were issued by the FDA which require new safety precautions affecting vegetables as well as other food products,” said Fred Pritzker, a food safety lawyer and advocate who publishes Food Poisoning Bulletin.

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Pritzker was referring to two rules proposed last week by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act which was signed into law almost two years ago. One of the proposed rules governs produce safety addressing contamination hazards such as irrigation and other agricultural water, farm worker hygiene, manure and other soil amendments, wild animal intrusion and sanitation of farm strutures, equipment and tools.

Leafy greens are a common source of E.coli food poisoning. Every year for the last three years there has been a muti-state food poisoning outbreak linked to to leafy greens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of an E. coli infection include include severe abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea.

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