FDA and CDC Investigate Multistate E. coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine
The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state and local agencies, are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses that are likely linked to romaine lettuce. On November 20, the CDC advised consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not to serve or sell any until more is known about the outbreak.
According to the CDC, there are currently 32 cases of E. coli across 11 states, which have been linked to the consumption of romaine. Thus far, no deaths have been reported, but 13 people have been hospitalized and one person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.
Additionally, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency are also coordinating with US agencies to investigate a similar outbreak in Canada. PHAC has identified 18 people sick with the same strain across Ontario and Quebec.
The current outbreak E. coli strain is the same as the one identified in a 2017 outbreak, which was linked to leafy greens. However, the strain is not related to the E. coli outbreak from early 2018. Our readers may remember, we’ve previously discussed that outbreak, which was declared officially over on June 28 and may have been caused by concentrated animal feeding operations in the Yuma, Arizona area.
The FDA is conducting a traceback investigation to determine the source of the romaine outbreak. FDA and state authorities are also conducting laboratory analysis of romaine lettuce samples potentially linked to the current outbreak. Until a source is determined, authorities recommend people do not eat romaine lettuce.