Romaine lettuce is a bad choice right now, health agencies warn

FDA Commissioner Comments on Deadly E. coli O57:H7 HUS Outbreak That May Be Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Wendy's takes Caesar salads off menu in wake of romaine lettuce-E. coli concerns

The Public Health Agency of Canada said January 10 that the E. coli outbreak linked to Romaine lettuce appears to be over.

"Public health agencies in both the United States and Canada are informing consumers that there are no concerns about consuming any particular food, while they continue their investigations into what caused this E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that began in November". Nine of those people have been hospitalized, two of whom are suffering from a form of kidney failure, notes CNN, and there has been one death.

"Leafy greens typically have a short shelf life, and since the last illness started a month ago, it is likely that contaminated leafy greens linked to this outbreak are no longer available for sale", the agency said.

The CDC's investigation has not identified a specific type, brand, or producer of romaine or any other leafy greens, which Wise says has made it hard to home in on a source. Consumers there are no longer being advised to avoid eating romaine lettuce.

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.

Pressure had been mounting on the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide more information to the public about this outbreak. Because of these reporting delays, more time is needed before CDC can say the outbreak in the United Stated is over. It also warns not to purchase packaged, loose or mixed salads that may have romaine lettuce. Thus, CDC is not recommending that US residents avoid any particular food given the short shelf life of leafy greens and because a specific type of leafy greens has not been identified. "For instance, if the equipment at a processing plant is contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, new product could become a source of further infections".

In her letter, the Democrat asked CDC to clarify the coordination between Canada and the US health authorities on the outbreak, and report any information CDC may have on "implicated suppliers, distributors or retailers". Most people recover from the illness in five to seven days but some develop a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be fatal.

"Without knowing exactly what caused this outbreak, we risk seeing a new batch of tainted product come onto the market", he said.

However, officials indicated the outbreak in the United States may also be over soon.

You can protect yourself by washing your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food.

If you are concerned that you might have an E. coli infection, talk to your health care provider. Contamination is also possible at the grocery store, in the refrigerator, or from counters and cutting boards through cross-contamination with bacteria from raw meat, poultry or seafood. Finally, avoid preparing food when you are sick, particularly if you are sick with diarrhea.

On Wednesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced it was no longer advising the public against eating romaine lettuce.

You've probably heard by now that 41 people in Canada have contracted E. coli from what possibly could have been contaminated romaine lettuce.

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