Published: Thu, November 22, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

E. Coli Outbreak in Ontario, Quebec Linked to Romaine Lettuce

E. Coli Outbreak in Ontario, Quebec Linked to Romaine Lettuce

An Ottawa resident is among the 18 infected by an E. coli outbreak in Ontario and Quebec, connected to the consumption of romaine lettuce.

Authorities in the U.S. are trying to control a series of outbreaks.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced the two cases Wednesday.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, has suspended with immediate effect, the issuing of permits for the importation of Romaine lettuce from the United States.

“At this time, there have not been reports locally to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

However, laboratory analysis indicates that the illnesses reported in this outbreak are genetically related to illnesses reported in a previous E. coli outbreak from December 2017.

The Public Health Agency of Canada warning on Tuesday advised consumers to avoid eating packaged romaine lettuce.

The Ottawa case is one of three confirmed in Ontario.

Some people can be infected with E. coli without symptoms but still spread the infection to others, the agency said.

Sobeys and Loblaws are pulling romaine lettuce from the shelves of all its stores across Canada. While some cases are mild, and most resolve in five to seven days, the FDA wrote in a release that children under five, adults older than 65, and immunocompromised individuals are the most likely to come down with "severe illness".

The United Fresh Produce Association, which represents companies across the produce supply chain, urged an industrywide voluntary withdrawal of all romaine in marketing channels and in inventory to help clear the supply chain of any product that could be responsible for the illnesses.

Keith Warriner, a microbiologist specializing in food safety at the University of Guelph, says both Canadian and American regulators should issue a mandatory recall of romaine lettuce amid the current E. coli outbreak.

Unlike field-grown lettuce, which can be contaminated by groundwater, hydroponic greens use local water sources that are monitored to ensure they are free of harmful pathogens, CEO Viraj Puri said.

According to CNN, the CDC has conducted more investigations in 2018 than in any of the last ten years. Even if you have romaine that you've eaten and haven't gotten sick from, throw it out.

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