August 8, 2022

FDA Investigates Two E. coli Outbreaks That May Be Romaine

The FDA is investigating two E. coli outbreaks that may be caused by romaine lettuce. Those outbreaks were announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday, October 27, 2020. Both of these outbreaks are caused by E. coli strains that are genetically related to two previous romaine outbreaks: One in in 2019 from Salinas, California lettuce. and one in 2018 from Yuma, Arizona lettuce. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response said in a statement, "The FDA, along with the CDC and our state and local partners, are working to investigate two outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 (STEC) illnesses. We do not know what food is causing people to get sick or whether it involves an FDA-regulated food product. However, we have seen similar … [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...]

Secret E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Sickens 21, Hospitalizes 8, Kills 1

A secret E. coli O157:H7 outbreak has sickened 21 people, hospitalized 8, and killed one person living in Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This outbreak was announced late last night. It is one of two outbreaks announced at the same time that may have connections to leafy greens. 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). Illness onset dates range from June 6, 2020 to October 5, 2020. The patient age range is from 2 to 75 years. Fifty percent of ill persons who gave information to investigators were hospitalized. One person developed HUS, and one death was reported from Michigan. Investigators have identified and illness cluster at a … [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...]

Learn How Romaine Lettuce Is Contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 Bacteria

With many E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce in 2017, 2018, and 2019, food safety experts are concerned that another outbreak could occur in 2020. Let's take a look at how romaine lettuce is contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in the first place. That pathogen exists in the guts of ruminant animals, more specifically, cows and sheep. Deer can also carry it. How does it travel from those animals to farm fields? There are several factors that come into play here. First, many concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are located near fields where romaine and other leafy greens are grown. Second, feces can contaminate ground water and canals that are a source of irrigation water. And third, two of the physical attributes of the lettuce play a role. E. … [Read more...]

Forty Leafy Greens STEC Outbreaks Occurring During 2009 to 2018

The October 2020 issue of the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases has a study about E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks from 2009 to 2018 and found that there were forty leafy greens STEC outbreaks during that time frame. STEC is Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, most often E. coli O157:H7. Those outbreaks caused 1,212 illnesses, 77 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and eight deaths. More of those outbreaks were linked to romaine lettuce than any other type of leafy green. Forty-five percent of those outbreaks occurred in the fall, and 28% occurred in the spring. Leafy greens are the second most common source of foodborne STEC outbreaks, after ground beef. The connection between those two products is that cattle are considered the major reservoir for the pathogen, and STEC … [Read more...]

Will There Be a 2020 E. coli Romaine Lettuce Outbreak?

Food safety experts are holding their collective breath. Now that fall is here, will there be a 2020 E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak? In previous years, by this time there has been at least one serious outbreak linked to leafy greens. Is our luck about to run out? Or have changes made by the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements and government made a difference? There has been at least one E. coli outbreak in the U.S.  linked to leafy greens every year since 2017; hundreds have been sickened, dozens have been hospitalized, and several people died. One of the issues in these outbreak developments, especially in the past several years, has to do with climate. When there has been an unusually hot and dry summer, farmers in California and Arizona have to use more … [Read more...]

FDA Investigation Into Three Fall 2019 Romaine E. coli O157:H7 Outbreaks

The FDA has released a report detailing their investigation into three fall 2019 romaine E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that sickened at least 188 people.  That agency worked with the FDA and state officials to investigation how the romaine lettuce was contaminated. The romaine E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks began in September 2019 and were declared over in January 2020. Some clusters within each of these outbreaks were traced to a common grower with multiple ranches and fields in the Salinas, California growing region. That grower was not named. Investigators found one of the outbreak strains of E. coli O157:H7 in a sample taken from public land less than two miles upslope from a produce farm with multiple fields that was identified during traceback investigations. Other Shiga … [Read more...]

FDA Releases 2020 Leafy Greens Action Plan After Romaine E. coli. Outbreaks

The FDA has released its 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan after the E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce in the past few years sickened hundreds. In fact, in 2019 alone, there were three E. coli O157:H7 romaine lettuce outbreaks that sickened more than 170 people and hospitalized more than 85 patients. Between 2009 and 2018, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 40 foodborne outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections in the U.S. with a confirmed or suspected link to leafy greens. This illness can cause serious and life-threatening complications, including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. Part of the problem is the nature of leafy greens and especially romaine lettuce. Most are grown … [Read more...]

Leafy Greens Industry Frustrated By Recurring E. coli Outbreaks

Will there be another E. coli outbreak linked to leafy greens this year? Since 2017, there has been at least one multistate E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce every year. Outbreaks linked to packaged salads and other leafy greens go back to 2010. And every year, the outbreak is unsolved, with the FDA and CDC unable to pinpoint where the contaminated greens originated. The leafy greens industry is frustrated. The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement group (LGMA) adopted new rules for its members last year, asking them to increase the buffer zone between between farm fields and animal feedlots, to clean equipment daily, to improve traceability, and to review the impact of severe weather on crops. Growers should now categorize the source of water used on their … [Read more...]

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