July 23, 2021

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...]

Dole Organic Romaine Hearts Recalled For non-O157 E. coli

Dole Fresh Vegetables is voluntarily recalling Dole Organic Romaine Hearts and Wild Harvest Organic Romaine Hearts for possible pathogenic non-O157 E. coli contamination. No illnesses or any consumer complaints have been reported to the company to date. And these recalled items are not associated with the strains that are connected to ongoing multistate outbreaks. The recalled items are Dole Organic Romaine Hearts 3pk with UPC number 0-71430-90061-1, in combined English/French packaging. The Harvested-On dates are 10-23-20 and 10-26-20. Also recalled is Wild Harvest Organic Romaine Hearts with UPC number 7-11535-50201-2. The Harvested-On dates for that product are also 10-23-20 and 10-26-20. The Harvested-On sticker is on the upper right corner of each bag. The UPC number is on the … [Read more...]

Canada E. coli Romaine Lettuce Update – Import Restrictions are Working

Every year since 2017, there has been at least one E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce or leafy greens in the United States and in Canada. While no such outbreak has been officially announced in the United States yet in 2020, there have been three "mystery" E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks announced by the CDC and FDA this fall that may be associated with romaine. No such outbreaks have occurred in Canada this year. Why? It may be because last month the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) imposed import restrictions on romaine lettuce grown in the United States. The romaine that allegedly caused illnesses in Canada mostly came from the Salinas growing region in California. So romaine importers either had to prove to the Canadian government that the lettuce did not … [Read more...]

Are There Three Romaine E. coli O157:H7 Outbreaks?

Food safety experts are talking about three separate new E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the United States that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not definitively linked to any food or facility. All may have a common thread, however. Are there three romaine E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks currently ongoing in this country? Maybe. The first two outbreaks were announced at the end of October 2020. The first E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, which sickened 21 people in 8 states and hospitalized 8, may be associated with a restaurant. The significant clue in this outbreak is that the outbreak strain is closely related to the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria that sickened 210 people in a deadly outbreak linked to romaine lettuce in 2018. The second outbreak, which has sickened at least … [Read more...]

Pritzker Hageman Files Second E. coli O157:H7 Lawsuit in Ohio

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman has filed a second E. coli O157:H7 lawsuit in the state of Ohio on behalf of a teenage girl who was sickened with a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection after allegedly eating food purchased at the Chipotle at 1140 Polaris Parkway in Columbus, Ohio. The suit was filed on Friday, November 6, 2020. The first lawsuit, also against the same restaurant location, was filed on October 31, 2020. Their client allegedly ate a salad bowl or burrito bowl purchased from that restaurant on September 22, 2020, and another on September 24, 2020. The bowl contained romaine lettuce, tomato salsa, guacamole, and other items. Several days later the teenager got sick with bloody diarrhea, and sought medical treatment. A diagnosis of STEC infection was … [Read more...]

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