Coli Outbreak 'Likely' Over; Canada Declares Romaine Lettuce Safe To Eat

Romaine lettuce

Agricultural industry associations in the United States reported that public health authorities in Canada declared an end to the outbreak of infections caused by E. coli O157: H7 bacteria, associated with consumption of romaine lettuce, while in the U.S. the Centers for Control and Prevention of Diseases (CDC) continue to investigate, but do not consider that there is a risk for consuming green leafy vegetables.

Canadian health officials say romaine lettuce is to blame but the CDC still isn't sure.

Jean Halloran, a Consumer Reports food policy expert said, "We think it's important to avoid eating romaine until the cause of this outbreak is determined". Because leafy greens generally have a short shelf life, and the last illness started a month ago, it is likely that any contaminated greens linked to the outbreak are no longer for available.

In a news release issued earlier on Wednesday, the CDC said the "likely source" of the outbreak in the US appeared to be "leafy greens", but unlike in Canada, officials had not identified a specific type. Romaine lettuce is mostly eaten raw and washing it or any produce tainted with E. coli will not remove the harmful bacteria. There is 1 reported death.

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On the same day, CDC announced the E. coli strains appeared related but would not identify a source of the infections.

"There is not enough epidemiologic evidence at this time to indicate a specific source of the illnesses in the United States", Brittany Behm, a CDC representative, said. Most people recover from the illness in five to seven days. That's an increase of seven illnesses since the initial report of the outbreak on December 28, 2017. Neither the CDC nor Canadian health officials have provided any information on where the romaine lettuce potentially involved in the illnesses was grown or processed, so for now, consumers should assume that any romaine lettuce, even when sold in bags and packages, could possibly be contaminated, Rogers said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement there was "likely" no longer a concern.

Although the most recent illness started on December 12, there is a delay between when someone gets sick and when the illness is reported to CDC. But infection with the O157 strain, which produces a shiga toxin, can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

If you or a loved one have been sickened with an E. coli O157:H7 infection or HUS, contact our experienced attorneys for help at 1-888-377-8900. "The bacteria can also be transmitted if a person who is carrying the bacteria doesn't wash his or her hands after using the bathroom and then processes or prepares food".

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