May 29, 2022

Fall Harvested Romaine More Likely to Cause E. coli Outbreaks

Agricultural Research Scientists have found that fall harvested romaine is more likely to contain more E. coli bacteria and cause more outbreaks, according to the USDA. Between 1998 and 2019, there were 36 outbreaks traced back to lettuce, particularly romaine lettuce, that was harvested in the fall on the California Central Coast, and in late winter in Southern California and Arizona. The seasonal outbreaks are more frequently associated with commercially grown lettuce harvested at the end of the growing season. The question is why. ARS microbiologist Maria Brand, leader of the study, said in a statement, "To begin unravelling the causes of these seasonal outbreaks, our research team looked at various factors to identify conditions that may increase E. coli survival on fresh-cut … [Read more...]

Same E. coli Strain Linked to 4 Outbreaks and 8 Deaths 2018- 2021

This week, the CDC announced the end of a deadly leafy greens E. coli outbreak. And revealed that it was caused by the same strain as the deadly outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, AZ in 2018. This is the fourth multistate outbreak linked to this E. coli O157:H7 strain since 2018. All of them have included at least one fatality. Two of them occurred in 2021. Together these four outbreaks resulted in 274 illnesses, 126 hospitalizations, 33 cases of a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and eight deaths. Leafy greens were identified as the source of two of the outbreaks. For the other two, which occurred in 2020 and 2021, the source was declared as "unknown." Like the 2018 outbreak, some of the greens linked to the outbreak that ended this … [Read more...]

New Romaine E. coli Outbreak Over As It’s Announced

A new romaine E. coli outbreak is over as soon as it's announced on the FDA's CORE Investigation Outbreak Table. Four people are sickened. The investigation into the outbreak, however, is still considered active. We do not know where the ill persons live, the patient age range, or if anyone has been hospitalized or has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. The FDA's statement reads, "The outbreak of four illnesses of E. coli O121:H19 (reference# 1050) has been linked to romaine lettuce. The information collected over the course of this investigation indicated that romaine lettuce was the likely source of this outbreak; however, it appears that this outbreak is over, and there is no actionable advice for consumers. FDA has been conducting a traceback … [Read more...]

FDA Proposes Agricultural Water Safety Rule For Use on Produce

There have been multiple E. coli outbreaks linked to fresh produce, especially leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, in the past few years. In several of those outbreaks, agricultural water has been implicated as the source of that pathogen. So the FDA has proposed a new agricultural water safety rule for use on produce. The rule would require farms to conduct comprehensive assessments that will help them identify and mitigate hazards in water that is used to grow produce. This is the latest step in the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011. This proposed rule will replace some of the existing requirements for agricultural water in the Produce Safety Rule. Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response said in a statement, "There … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Results of Romaine Lettuce Sampling Assignment

The FDA has released results of their romaine lettuce sampling assignment, which was instituted after years of Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC) outbreaks linked to that product. The FDA did not detect any pathogens during the assignment. Unfortunately, this is not unusual and doesn't mean that there will not be any more outbreaks linked to romaine or leafy greens. Contamination can be spotty and can vary with weather conditions and the presence of animals in the field. Furthermore, it's impossible to sample every leaf of romaine lettuce. E. coli bacteria tend to clump in small amounts and can be difficult to detect. It only takes 10 of these bacteria to make someone sick. And one head of contaminated lettuce can contaminate many bags of prepared lettuce. In fact, the study … [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 Trying New Romaine Sampling Plan in Yuma, Arizona

The FDA is trying a new romaine sampling plan in Yuma, Arizona. Romaine grown in that area was linked to a deadly E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened at least 210 people in 36 states. Ninety six people were hospitalized. Twenty-seven patients developed HUS. And five people, who lived in Arkansa, California, Minnesota (2 people), and New York, sadly died. And a deadly E. coli O157:H7 outbreak last year, that sickened 32 people in 12 states and was unsolved, was caused by the same strain that made people sick in the 2018 Yuma, Arizona romaine outbreak. That outbreak was not linked to any food or any growing region. So it's appropriate for the FDA to concentrate on that growing region. Lab testing during the investigation found the outbreak strain of E. coli in canal water in the … [Read more...]

Number Nine Outbreak of 2020: Unknown E. coli Outbreak 3

The number nine outbreak of 2020 is the Unknown E. coli Outbreak 3, which is not linked to any food source or facility. Eighteen people in nine states are sick in this Unknown E. coli outbreak 3, which ended December 18, 2020. Six people were hospitalized because they are so sick. The patient case count by state is: California (3), Colorado (2), Illinois (4), Michigan (3), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). Illness onset dates ranged from September 2, 2020 to November 6, 2020. The patient age range was from 8 to 71 years. Laboratory testing found the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in a sample of Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce in a single head package, but investigators were not able to determine if people got sick from eating … [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...]

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