FDA lifts romaine lettuce ban

It’s OK to eat some romaine lettuce again, FDA says

It said romaine from elsewhere should soon be labelled with harvest dates and regions so people know it's safe to eat.

First posted on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, CDC announced that it and public health and regulatory officials in several states, Canada, and the FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce.

It says the tainted romaine appears to have come from the Central Coast region of California. These recent illnesses indicate that contaminated romaine lettuce may still be on the market, including in restaurants, grocery stores and any establishments that serve food. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb took to Twitter over the Thanksgiving holiday to explain why such a blanket warning was issued. Romaine lettuce imported from Mexico should also be safe, the agency said.

Products will say, "Romaine grown in and harvest after [date]", the growers said.

Early this month, FDA said it couldn't definitively identify the source of the pathogens that contaminated the romaine in that outbreak after an intensive, monthslong investigation - though investigators continue to maintain that canal water was likely the mode of contamination. Canada linked its cases to romaine lettuce specifically, but United States investigators said only that the origin was in leafy greens.

The FDA said the E. coli O157:H7 strain causing the outbreak is similar to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in the fall of 2017. The Canadian agency reported 22 confirmed cases in three provinces: Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Most E. coli strains are harmless to humans, but some varieties can cause severe illness. That outbreak was traced to the Yuma, Arizona, growing region, but investigators never conclusively determined the precise source.

As per the statement, which was recently released by the CDC, almost 32 people in the region have been affected by the outbreak and have fallen ill, and the CDC has linked the same to the romaine lettuce.

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.

"Romaine as a category has had a year that's been unfortunate", Whitaker said.

"It gets a little mind-boggling when you think about how you make it clear for consumers", McEntire said.

The CDC has advised consumers to throw away any romaine lettuce they have in any form, such as whole heads, hearts or salad mixes containing it.

The current outbreak, the one from Yuma and the one from previous year were caused by contamination of an E. coli strain known as O157:H7. While unpleasant and may lead to hospitalization, most people recover.



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