The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a statement saying that its investigation into the 2020 outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 tied to leafy greens found that cattle grazing on lands near leafy greens fields could have increased the risk of product contamination. 

The new findings confirmed the presence of a recurring strain of E. coli O157:H7 in a region within Salinas Valley, California. This could serve as a potential source to be associated with future contamination events. The growing season in this region is currently over, and no product is available for purchase. 

FDA's findings will be detailed in a final report on the investigation. Its findings underscores the importance of the Produce Safety Rule and the preventative steps, as outlined in its Leafy Greens Action Plan to protect consumers. 

The outbreak was declared over on Dec. 22, 2020, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At that time, test results were still unconfirmed for samples of cattle droppings, soil, and other environmental sources. The FDA update is the first update released since Dec. 22. 

FDA investigators looked at samples from dozens of ranches in the Salinas Valley area. Investigators tested samples from leafy greens, but none showed E. coli contamination when initially collected. The outbreak was initially announced in October 2020.