USA – The Food and Drug Administration of the United States along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have launched an investigation into the outbreak of E.Coli infections possibly linked to Romaine lettuce grown in California.
According to the CDC, since the outbreak was reported in October, 52 people have been infected after possibly eating romaine lettuce harvested from the central Coastal growing regions of Northern and Central California.
The FDA has said that it has rolled out a trace back investigation to review the shipping records and invoices to trace the romaine through the supply chain.
The E. coli O157:H7 infections were traced to be possibly from lettuce grown in California counties including Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, SantaBarbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are also coordinating with U.S. agencies as they investigate a similar outbreak in Canada.
Also, 10 distributors, 12 growers, 11 farms have been implicated in the E. Coli saga related to the lettuce.
Romaine or cos lettuce is a variety of lettuce that grows in a tall head of sturdy dark green leaves with firm ribs down their centers, and in North America, it is sold as whole heads or as “hearts” that have had the outer leaves removed and are often packaged together.
Nineteen people have been hospitalized, including two who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome,a type of kidney failure and no deaths have been reported.
CDC and the FDA had last month warned against eating or selling romaine lettuce products harvested in the California counties.
According to FDA, pending the investigations, Romaine lettuce entering the market will be labelled with either a harvest location and date, or hydroponic or greenhouse information.
“If romaine lettuce does have this labeling information, we advise avoiding any product from the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California.Romaine lettuce from outside those regions need not be avoided.
Consumers may notice that romaine lettuce is beginning to be available in stores with the new labeling.
Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak.
Hydroponically-and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,” said FDA.
Canada has reported 27 illnesses related to E. Coli infection and the Public Health Agency has made a similar warning to residents in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
E.Coli causes intestinal illnesses and its symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and bloody diarrhea, dehydration, or even kidney failure in severe cases.