March 29, 2020

Salinas CA Romaine E. coli HUS Outbreak Investigated by FDA

The Salinas CA romaine E. coli HUS outbreak is being investigated by the FDA, which released a statement yesterday. At least 102 people are sick in 23 states. Fifty-eight people have been hospitalized, and ten patents have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is a complication of this type of infection.

Salinas CA Romaine E. coli HUS Outbreak Investigated by FDA

The statement says that consumers should not eat romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California, as well as products that have been recalled in relation to this investigation. Missa Bay recalled about 75,233 pounds of meat and chicken salad products on November 21, 2019.

Romaine lettuce may be voluntarily labeled with a harvest region. If this label has the word “Salinas” on it, don’t buy it or eat it. If the romaine you want to buy doesn’t have information about the harvest region or doesn’t indicate that it was grown hydroponically or in a greenhouse, don’t buy it. If you order a salad at a restaurant, ask where the romaine was harvested. If they don’t know, don’t eat it. The Salinas region includes Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito, and Monterey counties in California.

The FDA is requesting that industry voluntarily withdraw romaine grown in Salinas from the market and wants industry to withhold distribution of Salinas romaine for the rest of the growing season. The notice from the FDA states, “Without more specific traceback information, this was the most efficient way to ensure that contaminated romaine was off the market.”

Attorney Fred Pritzker

Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker said, “We hope that the FDA and state officials can pinpoint the source of this serious outbreak. If you or a family member has been sickened with an E. coli infection or HUS, you can contact Fred for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

The illness onset dates for this outbreak range from September 24, 2019 to November 18, 2019. These dates are before the public warning the FDA issued on November 22, 2019. But more illnesses could be reported, since it can take a few weeks from the time a person gets sick, sees a doctor, has tests conducted, and the results are reported to government officials.

The FDA, along with staff from the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Food and Agriculture has deployed investigators to three farms in the Salinas area that were identified during traceback in this Salinas CA romaine E. coli outbreak. Investigators sampled soil and animal droppings, compost, water, and other environmental sources. These samples are currently being analyzed. State partners are testing romaine lettuce samples for E. coli that have been collected from stores and from patients’ homes.

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