Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

Avoid romaine lettuce for now, Consumer Reports says

CDC Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC Avoid romaine lettuce for now, Consumer Reports says
Jerome Frank | 05 January, 2018, 13:42

Health officials confirm there have not been any cases reported on P.E.I., but according to the latest national update from the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are 41 reported cases of the illness in Canada and another 16 in the U.S. The outbreak has affected people in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Five people in the US received hospital care, and one has died, according to CDC.

Boston Pizza International Inc. has also temporarily suspended the sale of all types of romaine lettuce at the pizza joint's locations in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada as of December 26, said spokeswoman Alexandra Cygal in an email.

Because a US source hasn't been identified, the CDC has been unable to issue advice on food choices, but Consumer Reports is advising people avoid romaine lettuce for the time being. Two people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

"Even if this outbreak is actually confirmed to be caused by romaine lettuce, it's important to recognize this is a highly perishable product with a limited usable shelf life and it's highly unlikely a specific affected lot would still be available for sale or in a home refrigerator with the last US illness being reported on December 8 and the last Canadian illness reported December 12", it said in a joint statement with the Produce Marketing Association and other groups.

Consumer Reports advises everyone to avoid buying romaine lettuce and to throw out any you may already have until there's more information about the source of the contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued warnings about the outbreak.

Canadian officials are confident that romaine lettuce is at the root of the outbreak and are recommending that people avoid it for the time being. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also investigating a similar outbreak-- and tests are being done to see if those are related to the illnesses in the U.S.

The CDC says 17 illnesses have been reported in 13 states since mid-November.

Williams explained that with cases "spread out all over the place" and people having to report what they ate, in many cases over a month ago, it's been hard to identify the source in Canada and the US.

Canadian authorities said the outbreak had been linked to "exposure to romaine lettuce". So for now, Consumer Reports says people should assume that any romaine lettuce, even when sold in bags and packages, might be contaminated.

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