Published: Tue, November 27, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

FDA gives OK to eat some romaine lettuce

FDA gives OK to eat some romaine lettuce

Health officials said the romaine linked to a deadly E. coli outbreak that sparked an alert last week to avoid the lettuce entirely appears to be from California's Central Coast Region.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the new E. coli O157:H7 strain that has impacted consumers in both the United States and Canada originated from various romaine lettuce farms in California.

All romaine lettuce in the US was pulled from store shelves November 20 in a recall led by the FDA and all consumers, restaurants, and other institutions advised to get rid of any romaine on hand. Specifically, current evidence indicates this romaine was harvested in the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. Since then, harvesting of romaine has ended and shifted to the winter growing regions, which include the California desert region of the Imperial Valley, the desert region of Arizona in and around Yuma, and Florida, Gottlieb's statement said.

The produce industry plans to start putting harvest dates and regions on labels. Forty-three people in 12 US states have also been sickened. Due to personal health information restrictions, OPH can not provide any additional information about the case, however, the person did report consumption of romaine lettuce. The Canadian agency reported 22 confirmed cases in three provinces: Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. The probe is still underway, but has been narrowed down to some areas in California that grew romaine lettuce over the summer. Grocers and retailers are being asked to post the information by the register for romaine that doesn't come in packaging.

Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be affected in the outbreak.

Investigators have been tracing back the romaine eaten by people sickened in the outbreak.


"Romaine as a category has had a year that's been unfortunate", Whitaker said.

The FDA said it has no information to suggest that these growing areas are tied to the current E. coli outbreak.

The FDA said the industry committed to making the labelling standard for romaine and to consider longer-term labelling options for other leafy greens.

The current outbreak, the one from Yuma and the one from past year were caused by contamination of an E. coli strain known as O157:H7.

Under the Trump administration's FDA regulations, produce growers won't be required to begin annual testing until 2022, after which any grower with an E. coli problem will have an additional two years through 2024 to resolve the issue.

The most significant symptoms are severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea and while the majority of diners sickened get well in five to seven days, five to 10 percent develop a potentially life-threatening type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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