The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state health authorities are investigating an outbreak of illnesses caused by E. coli O157:H7 in the United States. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, Calif.-growing region is a likely source of this outbreak. The CDC is reporting an increase in the case count to 67 and that the most recent illness onset date is Nov. 14, 2019.
At this time, romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Salinas region has not been implicated in this outbreak investigation. Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine, which is voluntarily labeled as “indoor grown,” from any region does not appear to be related to the current outbreak.
Currently, the FDA does not have enough traceback information to identify the specific source of the contamination that would allow the agency to request a targeted recall from specific growers. At this stage in the investigation, the most efficient way to ensure that contaminated romaine is off the market would be for industry to voluntarily withdraw product grown in Salinas, and to withhold distribution of Salinas romaine for the remainder of the growing season in Salinas. The FDA has made this request of industry.
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