Published: Mon, December 03, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

FDA clears Romaine sales from non-affected regions

FDA clears Romaine sales from non-affected regions

On top of that, Canada's Public Health Agency has identified patients infected with the same DNA fingerprint of E. coli.

Health officials said the romaine linked to a deadly E. coli outbreak that sparked an alert last week to avoid the lettuce entirely appears to be from California's Central Coast Region. Investigators are using evidence collected in both outbreaks to help identify the possible cause of the contamination in these events.

If you're served something with romaine lettuce in it, you don't want to remove the lettuce and eat everything else, Wu says. Labeling product as "California-grown" probably wouldn't work, for example, because there's also California-grown lettuce in the Yuma region, which includes Arizona. Lettuce harvesting in California's Central Coast - which is believed to be the primary source - has come to an end for the year. The FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced on Twitter Friday that the contaminated romaine lettuce is likely California-based, but it is still not safe for consumers to eat.

The FDA and industry leaders, scrambling to respond to yet another E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce, have agreed to a deal to give consumers more information about where their lettuce is from.

Empty store shelves after a nationwide E-coli outbreak prompted the disposal of all romaine produce products at the Smart & Final grocery in Newport Beach California on Nov 21 2018
Some romaine lettuce safe to eat again, FDA says

However, if you don't know where the lettuce is from, do not eat it, the CDC said. Grocery stores and restaurants across the nation promptly threw away their inventories and the FDA believes the "clean break" was achieved during that process.

The labelling arrangement was worked out as the produce industry called on the FDA to quickly narrow the scope of its warning so it wouldn't have to waste freshly harvested romaine. This year, romaine lettuce is the suspected vehicle for both the USA and Canadian outbreaks. The people who have gotten sick recently because of the same outbreak have also been observed to be infected with the similar fingerprint, as far as the recent E. coli strain which infected quite a few people past year, is considered. Consumers that have any of symptoms related to E.coli should talk to their healthcare provider and report their illness to the health department. It also noted hydroponically grown romaine and romaine grown in greenhouses isn't implicated in the outbreak.

As of Monday, the FDA said the outbreak has resulted in 43 people becoming ill in 12 states, with the last reported illness onset date on October 31.

It is hard to know whether a product is contaminated with E. coli because you can't see, smell or taste it. Romaine lettuce can have a shelf life of up to five weeks, and therefore it is possible that contaminated romaine lettuce purchased over the past few weeks may still be in your home. If heads of romaine are being sold unwrapped, retailers are expected to prominently label the produce display, Gottlieb said. Eight individuals have been hospitalized, and one individual suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection.

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