Published: Thu, November 29, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

It's OK to eat some romaine, look for labels

It's OK to eat some romaine, look for labels

Now that winter has settled into applicable parts of the U.S., romaine lettuce crops have transitioned to desert regions in California and Arizona, as well as Florida. "Romaine lettuce entering the market can also be labeled as being hydroponically or greenhouse grown".

This notice has been updated to include three additional cases of E. coli linked to the outbreak.

The CDC announced on November 20 that any and all romaine lettuce products in the U.S. should be thrown away due to the risk.

Investigators have been tracing back the romaine eaten by people sickened in the outbreak.

"If consumers, retailers, and food service facilities are unable to identify that romaine lettuce products are not affected - which means determining that the products were grown outside the California regions that appear to be implicated in the current outbreak investigation -we urge that these products not be purchased, or if purchased, be discarded or returned to the place of purchase", he said.

The Food and Drug Administration narrowed its blanket warning from last week, when it said people shouldn't eat any romaine because of an E. coli outbreak. Laboratory analysis indicates that the illnesses reported in this outbreak are genetically related to illnesses reported in a previous E. coli outbreakfrom December 2017 that affected consumers in both Canada and the U.S. This tells us that the same strain of E. coli is causing illness in Canada and the United States as was seen in 2017 and it suggests there may be a reoccurring source of contamination.

And, if you're not sure if the leafy green you're served is actually romaine, ask.

Narrowing down the source of the current outbreak is a priority for FDA and the industry, but it won't necessarily solve the industry's problems, nor clear up confusion for consumers.

Most of the individuals who became sick reported eating romaine lettuce before their illnesses occurred. The illness reports happened in October and romaine supply during that time is dominated by the golden state. It produces a Shiga toxin that in severe cases can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Most people get better in a week or less, but some can experience life-threatening infection. If a product does not have this information, consumers are advised not to eat or use it.

This particular outbreak is slowly turning out to be a scary one, as the CDC has reported that almost thirteen people have also been recently hospitalized, and not only that, one of these patients has also developed kidney failure, Thankfully, no deaths have been reported till this point of time because of the outbreak.

With regard to Romaine used in foodservice applications, the restaurant or other establishment is considered the end-user and must verify the product was sourced from approved areas but need not include signage, according to FDA.

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