Thursday, 13 December, 2018


It's OK to eat some romaine, look for labels

Romaine Lettuce It’s OK to eat some romaine lettuce again, FDA says
Patty Aguilar | 03 December, 2018, 19:40

With regard to Romaine used in foodservice applications, the restaurant or other establishment is considered the end-user and must verify the product was sourced from approved areas but need not include signage, according to FDA.

Following a unsafe outbreak of E. coli traced to romaine lettuce that sickened 32 people across 11 states, major leafy-greens producers agreed to label their packed romaine by region or state and by harvest date. US investigators never specified which salad green might be to blame for those illnesses, which happened around the same time of year as the current outbreak.

Not all types of romaine lettuce contain the E. coli strain, but the recall is in place as a safety precaution, said Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Federal health officials said the most likely source of contamination is from the central coastal growing regions in northern and central California. But it says it's OK to eat romaine from parts of California and Arizona that were not harvesting when the illnesses began in October.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley said BU Dining Services removed all romaine lettuce from campus dining halls when the CDC released their initial report. Therefore, a straight warning has been given to the public by the CDC asking them to not eat any romaine lettuce.

While the romaine supply undergoes a "clean break" to ensure all the contaminated lettuce is effectively gone from the market, the FDA has asked producers and distributors to provide clear labeling with the lettuce's date and origin in the future. It will give consumers more information about where and when romaine lettuce on the market was grown, which is particularly useful during foodborne illness outbreaks. The people who have gotten sick recently because of the same outbreak have also been observed to be infected with the similar fingerprint, as far as the recent E. coli strain which infected quite a few people previous year, is considered. Forty-three people in 12 USA states have also been sickened. Twenty days is the average amount of time that passes between when a person falls ill and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alerted, according to the FDA. Most at risk for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections are those younger than 5, older than 65 and with weakened immune systems.

The leafy greens industry agreed to establish a task force for solutions for long-term labeling of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens.

- Days after warning consumers to avoid all romaine lettuce, federal health officials are revising their guidance. Since romaine is often chopped up and bagged, a single contaminated batch from one farm that skips testing could make a lot of people sick, he said. Residents in impacted provinces are also advised to discard any romaine lettuce in their home, and to properly wash and sanitize any containers or bins that have come in contact with romaine lettuce.

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