The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating a rash of E. coli outbreaks across a number of states in America after at least 50 people fell seriously ill and at least two people has died due to the deadly bacteria. According to Breaking 911, the contaminated food made its way onto the shelves of grocery stores, and consumers then ate it without any knowledge they were potentially ingesting something that could kill them.
According to the report, the affected food is Romaine lettuce, which is popular among many health advocates and foodies alike, and the outbreaks aren’t limited to just one region.
From Breaking 911:
CDC, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli infections in 13 states. Seventeen illnesses and one death have been reported from California (3), Connecticut (2), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1), Vermont (1) and Washington (1). Illnesses started on dates from November 15 through December 8, 2017. The Public Health Agency of Canada also is investigating an outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections in several provinces.
Whole genome sequencing is being performed on samples of bacteria making people sick in the United States to give us information about whether these illnesses are related to the illnesses in Canada. Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada. 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. CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among sick people, including leafy greens and romaine.
As of now, American officials haven’t been able to positively determine that the romaine lettuce is the actual cause of the outbreak. However, Canadian officials have, so both the CDC and FDA, along with Consumer Reports, are warning Americans should avoid Romaine lettuce until the issue is resolved, which could take some time.
Time Magazine has more:
“Even though we can’t say with 100% certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that romaine lettuce is almost always consumed raw,” said James Rogers, director of food safety and research at Consumer Reports, in a statement.