June 16, 2021

FDA Starts Sampling Salinas Valley Lettuce For E. coli Contamination

The FDA has started sampling Salinas Valley lettuce for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Salmonella species as part of online surveillance efforts following recurrent outbreaks linked to the products grown in this region. E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks linked to these products, more specifically romaine lettuce, have occurred in 2020, 2019, and 2018. Romaine lettuce is uniquely susceptible to contamination because of the way it grows. The lettuce grows in a cup shape very close to the ground. That shape can collect and hold irrigation water, which can be contaminated with pathogens, especially if the farm field is located near factory cattle farms. There is a recurring strain of E. coli O157:H7 in the region that has been identified in leafy greens year after year. In this new … [Read more...]

Investigation of Leafy Greens E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Fall 2020

The FDA has released an investigation report into factors that may have contributed to the leafy greens E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in fall 2020 that sickened at least 40 people in 19 states across the country. The outbreak was linked via whole genome sequencing and geography to outbreaks in 2019 and 2018 that were associated to the California growing region.; the proximity of cattle is a likely contributing factor. The outbreak caused 20 hospitalizations. Four people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of an E. coli infection that is a type of kidney failure. The illness onset dates ranged from August 10 through October 31, 2020. Leafy greens were declared the likely source of this outbreak after interviews with patients. The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak strain … [Read more...]

Ultrasonic Cleaning Could Reduce Leafy Greens Outbreaks

A new study conducted at the University of Southamptom has found that ultrasonic cleaning could reduce leafy greens outbreaks in the future. The cleaning is done by spraying food with streams of water that carry sound and microscopic air bubbles. This can clean greens more effectively than current washing methods. The study was conducted in a collaboration between the University of Southampton, North Carolina State University,  with lead scientist Professor Timothy Leighton. The work was sponsored by Vitacress. There have been several deadly E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the past few years that were linked to leafy greens, particularly romaine lettuce harvested in Arizona and California. While most of the investigations conducted by the CDC, FDA, and local officials have not been … [Read more...]

FDA Proposes New Traceability Rule For Food Manufacturers

The FDA is proposing a new traceability rule for food manufacturers, as well as those who process, pack or hold foods on the Food Traceability List to help identify recipients of those foods quickly to help mitigate foodborne illness outbreaks. In the past few years, the government has blamed their inability to find the sources of foods that have caused outbreaks on traceability issues. This rule would be part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA). The proposed rule is called Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods. It is a key component of the FDA's New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. The comments periods for the proposed rule and information collection provisions have been extended until February 22, 2021. The rule would be a … [Read more...]

E. coli O157:H7 Leafy Greens Outbreak Unknown Source 2 Investigation Complete

The E. coli O157:H7 leafy greens outbreak Unknown Source 2 investigation is complete, according to an update posted by the FDA. The outbreak was declared over on December 22, 2020, after sickening at least 40 people in 19 states. Twenty people were hospitalized, and four developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. After the investigation, no recommendation was made to consumers, retailers, or suppliers. Epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicated that leafy greens were linked to this E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. This outbreak was caused by a strain of E. coli that is genetically related to a strain linked to the fall 2019 E. coli O157:H7 romaine outbreak that sickened at least 167 people in 27 states. The patient case count by state is: Arizona (2), … [Read more...]

Second Mystery E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Over After Sickening 40

The second mystery E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, also known as Unknown Source 2, which has been linked to leafy greens, is now over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the number six multistate outbreak of 2020, with 40 people sick in 19 states. Unfortunately, a specific type or brand of leafy greens was not identified as the source of this outbreak. This outbreak is different from the other two mystery E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that occurred at the same time: Unknown Source 1 which was the number 8 outbreak of 2020, and Unknown Source 3 which was the number 9 outbreak of 2020. The patient case count by state is: Arizona (2), California (6), Illinois (2), Indiana (1), Kansas (4), Michigan (3), Minnesota (2), Missouri (3), North Dakota (4), Ohio … [Read more...]

CDC Updates Second Mystery E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak; Romaine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the second mystery E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that may be associated with leafy greens or romaine lettuce. This outbreak has now sickened at least 39 people in 18 states. There are three unsolved multistate E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks ongoing at this time; all of the investigation notices mention leafy greens, and one mentions an unnamed restaurant. The outbreak investigation notice states that "This outbreak is different from the two other E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks CDC is currently investigating." This is the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 which caused a massive outbreak last year that was linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas Valley growing region in California. At least 167 people were sickened in that outbreak … [Read more...]

How Common Are E. coli O157:H7 Leafy Greens Outbreaks?

There are currently two active E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the United States that were announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this month. Neither has had a specific food, brand, store, or restaurant associated with it, although the FDA has hinted that one may be linked to a restaurant and one may be linked to leafy greens. How common are foodborne E. coli O157:H7 leafy green outbreaks? The CDC has a fact sheet on leafy greens that will shed light on this question and also helps consumers protect themselves against foodborne illness linked to those products. From 2014 to 2018 there have been 51 foodborne illness outbreaks linked to leafy greens. Five of those outbreaks were publicized by the government. Two of those five outbreaks were inked to packaged … [Read more...]

Second Secret E. coli Outbreak Sickens 23 in 12 States, Hospitalizes 10

A second secret E. coli outbreak has sickened 23 people and hospitalized 10, according to information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late last night. The first outbreak, which was caused by a different strain of E. coli O157:H7, was also announced last night. This outbreak is caused by the same strain of bacteria that contaminated romaine lettuce and sickened 167 people in 27 states in 2019. While this information is significant, it doesn't mean that this outbreak was caused by leafy greens. A specific food has not been identified yet, and the government is not making any recommendations for consumers to avoid any particular food. But in another twist, the outbreak investigation statement says, "State and local public health officials are … [Read more...]

CDC Announces Two Mystery E. coli Outbreaks; Leafy Greens?

Tonight the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced two mystery E. coli outbreaks that may be linked to leafy greens that have sickened 44 people and hospitalized 18; three have developed HUS and one person has died. In the first outbreak, 21 people in 8 states are ill. Eight people have been hospitalized, and one person who lived in Michigan has died. Illness onset dates range from June 6, 2020 to October 5, 2020. The patient age range is from 2 to 75 years. Of 16 people who gave information to investigators, eight were hospitalized. One person developed HUS. The patient case count by state is: California (7), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Michigan (2), New Jersey (1), Ohio (7), Utah (1), and Wisconsin (1). The strain of E. coli O157:H7 causing illness in … [Read more...]

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