November 14, 2019

FDA and Lawyer Explain Why Deadly Romaine E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak Is Unsolved

The FDA has issued a report on the deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak that is linked to romaine lettuce. A least 172 people in 32 states are sick in this outbreak. One person in California has died, 75 people have been hospitalized, and 20 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak

While FDA officials have identified Harrison Farms of Yuma, Arizona as the grower and sole source of the whole-head romaine that sickened eight in the Anvil Mountain Correctional Facility in Nome Alaska, they do not know where in the supply chain the contamination occurred. It could have been in the fields, during harvest, during processing, or during transport.

The issue in this outbreak is that the romaine lettuce that would have made people sick wasn’t available at exposure locations when ill people were identified. That made it hard to determine production lots. And officials found that a single production lot can contain romaine from multiple ranches. That makes traceback very challenging.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

You can contact food safety attorney Fred Pritzker for help by calling 612-338-0202 or 1-888-377-8900.

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who is representing clients sickened in this outbreak, said, “We don’t know if this outbreak will ever be solved, especially considering that romaine lettuce has a relatively short shelf life.”

In fact, the FDA has concluded that the illnesses in this outbreak “cannot be explained by a single grower, harvester, processor, or distributor.” FDA officials are still trying to identify factors that contributed to the contamination across many different supply chains. Attorneys have filed lawsuits on behalf of clients in these cases against Red Lobster, Papa Murphy’s, Panera, and Texas Road House restaurants.

The Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, that is administered by the Arizona Department of Agriculture, has confirmed to the FDA that romaine lettuce is no longer being produced and distributed form the Yuma growing region. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from that area is available in stores or restaurants, since it has a 21 day shelf life.

No one is saying directly that it is safe to eat romaine lettuce again. The likelihood that the lettuce that is linked to these illnesses is still available to consumers is low.

If you have eaten romaine lettuce and have been experiencing the symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection, which include severe and painful abdominal cramps and bloody or watery diarrhea, see your doctor. This is a serious illness and it can have serious long term consequences.

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