July 10, 2020

FDA Updates Salinas Romaine E. coli HUS Outbreak; 138 Sick

The FDA has updated their investigation into the Salinas romaine E. coli HUS outbreak and has found that 138 people in 25 states are now sick, an increase of 36 more patients since the last update on December 4, 2019. Seventy-two people are hospitalized, and 13 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory evidence indicates that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region is the likely source of this outbreak.

FDA Updates Salinas Romaine E. coli HUS Outbreak; 138 Sick

The case count by state is: Arizona (3), California (4), Colorado (6), Florida (2), Idaho (3), Illinois (10), Iowa (1), Maryland (5), Michigan (1), Minnesota (5), Montana (1), Nebraska (2), New Jersey (9), New Mexico (2), North Carolina (2), Ohio (12), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (17), South Carolina (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (6), Virginia (6), Washington (4), and Wisconsin (33). Illness onset dates range from September 20 ,2019 to December 1, 2019. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 89 years.

The government says that consumers should not eat any romaine harvested from Salinas, California. That means not eating baby romaine, chopped romaine, whole heads of romaine, products made with romaine, and salads made with romaine from that area. Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown lettuce is not related to the current outbreak.

The notice did state, “Current traceback investigations have identified a common grower in Salinas. FDA, CDC, and California partners have deployed a team to conduct new investigations at several ranches used by this grower as we try to identify the source of the contamination.” But no more information about the grower has been released.

FDA has requested that industry voluntarily withdraw romaine grown in Salinas from the market, and that industry withhold distribution for the rest of the growing season, which was supposed to end at the end of November. FDA has sent a team of investigators to the grower’s ranches to take samples of soil, animal droppings, compost, water, and other potential environmental sources of the pathogen.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services found the outbreak strain in an unopened bag of Fresh Express Leafy Green Romaine. One of the growers of this product also supplied romaine linked to two other E coli O157:H7 outbreaks that the FDA is investigating, including one in the upper Midwest and one in Seattle, Washington.

Lawyer Fred Pritzker

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with food poisoning, you can contact food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

For this outbreak, Missa Bay recalled about 75,232 pounds of salad products that were made with the same lot of lettuce that produced the packaged salad that the Maryland Department of Health found to contain E. coli O157:H7. The products have the establishment number “EST. 18t02B” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

If you have been ill with the symptoms of E. coli O157:H7, which include severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea, see your doctor, especially if you have eaten romaine lettuce. Same if anyone is experiencing the sytmposm of HUS, which include little or no urine output, lethargy, and pale skin. You may be part of this Salinas romaine E. coli HUS outbreak.

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