E. coli outbreak in US, Canada may be linked to romaine lettuce

05 January, 2018, 13:43 | Author: Keith Rowe

Meanwhile in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on Dec 28 reported one more case, raising the outbreak total to 41 cases in five eastern provinces.

Consumer Reports says people should stop eating romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified and the tainted product is removed from store shelves.

"In the United States, state and local public health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started".

Cooking is one way to kill foodborne bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella, but since lettuce is usually eaten raw that's no help.

Health officials in the United States and Canada are looking into the source of the infections which have made at least 58 people sick and caused one death.

Consumers Union's Jean Halloran said people should get stronger warnings. The agency says they can not yet link the outbreak to a certain type of food.

Other states with reported illnesses are Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

"We're very hopeful that things are wrapping up, but we don't have enough data to say that".

"Interviews of ill people haven't identified a likely source for the USA illnesses".

What's the source of this outbreak? Food is often shipped to central plants from various farms, where it is processed, mixed together, packaged, and redistributed.

During the past seven weeks, 58 people in the USA and Canada have become ill from the strain of E. coli O157: H7.

"This time of year, most of our lettuce will come from southern places ... so if it's affecting both countries, it may be from California or Mexico or other countries that produce romaine lettuce", said Schellhorn.

Consumer Reports is recommending that Americans avoid all romaine lettuce for now, but other food safety experts say it may be too soon to blame romaine for the outbreak.

"Do not buy romaine lettuce and don't use any that you may have in your refrigerator until there is more information on the source of contamination". Two of the hospitalized patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Young children, the elderly and anyone with a condition that weakens the immune system are at a greater risk for illness.



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