Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb took to Twitter over the Thanksgiving holiday to explain why such a blanket warning was issued. Last year, this outbreak was actually linked to some leafy greens which were sold in the United States as well as Canada. Health officials said today it's OK to eat some romaine lettuce again.
Since romaine has a shelf life of about 21 days, health officials said last week they believed contaminated romaine could still be on the market or in people's homes.
That's up from 32 people sickened, including 13 hospitalized, in 11 states last week, and there could be more cases coming. "Our 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".
Agency officials say consumers should check revamped labels that will now say where and when their romaine was grown.
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Last week, the FDA said the strain of E. coli O157:H7 causing the current outbreak is genetically link to the strain the caused an outbreak last fall in the USA and Canada Twenty-five people got sick - including one death and two incidents of hemolytic uremic syndrome - in 15 states.
In Canada, based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to romaine lettuce has been identified as a source of the outbreak, but the cause of contamination has not been identified.
Federal health officials said the most likely source of contamination is from the central coastal growing regions in northern and central California. Leafy greens, such as lettuce, can become contaminated in the field by soil, water, animals or improperly composted manure. Most E. coli strains are harmless to humans, but some varieties can cause severe illness. The strain in this one has the same genetic fingerprint as the one that caused illnesses late previous year in the United States and Canada. Most at risk for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections are those younger than 5, older than 65 and with weakened immune systems. Some infections are very mild and people usually get better within five to seven days. Consumers are advised to use the information in this public health notice to help make informed decisions about their own personal health situations.
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. 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.