Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Coli risk for romaine lettuce returns to low

Although the outbreak appears to be over the Public Health Agency of Canada says Canadians should 'always follow safe food handling tips for preparing lettuce.' DeLauro pushes CDC director for answers on E. coli outbreak
Judith Alexander | 12 January, 2018, 06:19

The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that "no individual has become ill after December 12, 2017".

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in the United States is closely related genetically to the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill people in Canada. "The available data strongly suggest that romaine lettuce is the source of the US outbreak".

American officials said that the outbreak in the United States was most likely caused by "leafy greens", and their counterparts in Canada specifically identified romaine lettuce as the source of the infections there. The CDC said the likely source of the US outbreak appears to be leafy greens, but it is not recommending Americans avoid any particular food at this time.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), a microbiologist, affirmed DeLauro's sentiments in a statement to Consumer Reports: "The delay in CDC or FDA providing updated information to consumers is very disappointing.Timely information is critical to avoid potentially contaminated foods and I call on FDA to take all necessary steps to protect public health". Romaine lettuce is mostly eaten raw and washing it or any produce tainted with E. coli will not remove the harmful bacteria.

No common supplier distributor, or retailer of leafy greens has been identified as a possible source of this outbreak. Many of them were sickened weeks ago, and it can be hard to recall every food you consumed after so much time has passed, said Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch. Ill people also reported eating different types and brands of romaine lettuce. That's an increase of seven illnesses since the initial report of the outbreak on December 28, 2017. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement there was "likely" no longer a concern.

State and local public health officials continue to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started.

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Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, said it's unclear what steps FDA and CDC are taking in the wake of one of the most serious outbreaks that has occurred in the Trump administration.

The outbreak is responsible for 66 infections and two deaths in the two countries.

For the record, symptoms of E. coli begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria, notes CNN.

Most people develop diarrhea (often bloody) and stomach cramps. People should also thoroughly wash fresh produce.

There were 42 cases of E. coli illness in the affected provinces, including 13 in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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