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

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

As of Monday, the FDA said 43 people became ill in 12 states due to the outbreak, and another 22 people were sickened in Canada.

The CFIA is also implementing additional control measures to ensure products from California's Central Coast region are not being admitted to Canada, including greater scrutiny of product destined for this country.

Now, the Malaysian Ministry of Health has issued a statement yesterday (26th November), confirming that Malaysia does import Romaine lettuce from the US and the ministry has been screening the imported lettuce using the "Stop, Test, and Release" protocol that was initiated on 23rd November. Several major romaine lettuce producers have agreed to label products with a harvest date by region, and new romaine from different growing regions, including Florida and Arizona, is being restocked in grocery shelves.

The FDA said on Monday that all romaine lettuce entering the market should now be labeled with a harvest location and date and that consumers should not buy or eat it if that information is missing. Hydroponic lettuce and lettuce grown in greenhouses also do not appear to be affected by the outbreak. An industry group said people can expect to start seeing labels as early as this week. But it has advised the Canadian food industry, including importers, not to import romaine lettuce from the suspect areas identified by the FDA until further notice.

"Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak, ' Gottlieb said".

Robert Whitaker, chief science officer of the Produce Marketing Association, said labelling for romaine could help limit the scope of future alerts and rebuild public trust after other outbreaks. If you don't know if your lettuce is romaine, play it safe and toss it, too.

The current outbreak, the one from Yuma and the one from a year ago were caused by contamination of an E. coli strain known as O157:H7.

Twenty-two people in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick have been sickened by E. coli since October.

Federal investigators believe that the E. coli strain, known as O157:H7, causing the outbreak resembles the one that caused an outbreak in the fall of 2017 in the United States and Canada.

"We remain committed to identifying ways to decrease the incidence and impact of food borne illness outbreaks, and will continue to provide updates on our investigation and changes to our advice on romaine lettuce as more information becomes available", Gottlieb said.

McEntire said the industry is considering multiple theories, including whether there is something about romaine that makes it more susceptible to contamination.

Five people died in the most recent major outbreak from contaminated romaine, which lasted from March to June of this year and led to 210 cases in 36 states.

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