FDA lifts romaine lettuce ban

Lynette PayneNov 30, 2018

The investigation at this point suggests that romaine lettuce associated with the outbreak comes from areas of California that grow romaine lettuce over the summer months, and that the outbreak appears to be related to "end of season" romaine lettuce harvested from these areas.

The FDA, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned USA residents last week not to consume the lettuce from anywhere because of an E. coli outbreak.

If it's from the winter-growing regions of the US - the California desert region of the Imperial Valley, the desert region of Arizona in and around Yuma and Florida - it's fine, since people started getting sick before these regions started shipping out their product.

If consumers, retailers and food service facilities can't determine whether the romaine was grown outside California, they should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one got sick, according to a lengthy statement from Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Monday.

"The task force will also examine information from this outbreak to identify measures that led to its occurrence and how to prevent ongoing safety problems with romaine lettuce", Gottlieb said.

At least 22 people in Ontario Quebec and New Brunswick have been sickened in the outbreak
At least 22 people in Ontario Quebec and New Brunswick have been sickened in the outbreak

The agency also commended stores and restaurants nationwide for pulling romaine until investigators could figure out the source.

"Those who are experiencing food poisoning symptoms after consuming Romaine lettuce are advised to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest clinic or hospital."

If you have been keeping up with what has been happening in the United States, you would probably know that the country's federal health officials issued a warning to consumers two days before Thanksgiving (20th November), instructing them to dispose of any Romaine lettuce they may have recently bought. The new guidance is based on an investigation into an E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens of people. Most E. coli strains are harmless and indeed part of a healthy gut. Twenty days is the average amount of time that passes between when a person falls ill and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alerted, according to the FDA.

Romaine lettuce harvested outside those regions "does not appear to be related to the current outbreak", the FDA said.

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. The FDA will also start to sample romaine lettuce for contamination throughout the food supply chain. The CDC estimates 265,000 cases a year of illness from Shiga toxins from E. coli spread by animals and people, but just 30 deaths. "You as the consumer have the voting power with your dollar to say that my health and the health of my family is more important than someone trying to make excuses to continue to sell this".

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