Yesterday, the Public Health Agency of Canada declared that the recent Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce appears to be over. Consumers there are no longer being advised to avoid eating romaine lettuce. However, an eerily similar outbreak in the U.S. is still being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The outbreak has now been identified in 15 states.
While the outbreak does appear to be associated with leafy greens, according to CDC and FDA statements released yesterday, U.S. health officials have not confirmed a specific type, nor have any food recalls been issued. Because leafy greens tend to have a short shelf life--and because the last known illness related to the outbreak occurred last month--it is likely that the contaminated food that’s causing illness is no longer available in retail stores or foodservice establishments.
In response to these latest statements and developments, United Fresh released its own statement yesterday in response. A joint message from United Fresh Produce Association, the Arizona and California LGMAs, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers brings special attention to these three points:
Public health agencies in both the United States and Canada are informing consumers that there are no concerns about consuming any particular food, while they continue their investigations into what caused this E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that began in November.
Based on these statements, both governments have concluded that the food responsible for this foodborne illness outbreak is no longer in the market.
The industry associations are committed to working with government agencies in both the United States and Canada to assist with the ongoing investigations.
CDC and FDA will continue to update the public as more information on the outbreak source is uncovered.