Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared an end to the E. coli outbreak linked to “leafy greens”. The decision was made because no related illnesses have been reported since mid-December, leading health officials to conclude that the contaminated food in question must no longer be available for sale, nor is it being consumed by the public anymore.
Despite declaring the outbreak over, the agency is continuing to work with federal, state and local officials to pinpoint what leafy green food item was the cause of the outbreak, where it originated from and its chain of distribution. Because the U.S. has not identified a source of the outbreak besides identifying leafy greens as the culprit, this means that health officials cannot recommend that consumers avoid any particular food, nor can they recommend any food item to be recalled. Part of the reason that U.S. health officials have not named a specific food to be the cause of this outbreak is because some of the people who have gotten sick in this outbreak have said they did not consume romaine lettuce in the days and/or weeks prior to becoming ill.
U.S. health officials are also keeping in close contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the agency that declared their country’s leafy green E. coli outbreak--which they determined to be caused by contaminated romaine lettuce-- over on January 10th. Through the use of whole-genome sequencing, it has been revealed that the E. coli strain that was found in Canada is “genetically similar” to the one that has sickened people in the U.S.
A total of 25 E. coli cases were identified in 15 states. All of the sickened consumers began to experience foodborne illness symptoms between early November and mid-December. Two consumers died in relation to this outbreak--one in California, and the other in Canada.