WebMD News Brief

Common Supplier Seen in Romaine E.coli Outbreaks

fresh heads of romaine lettuce

Dec. 13, 2019 -- Federal agents and state health officials have identified a common supplier linked to three E.coli outbreaks from romaine lettuce, the FDA says.

“It’s still too early to conclusively determine whether other sources may have also been involved in the outbreaks. However, progress is being made, and the FDA is actively investigating other traceback leads identified to determine if we can triangulate a more precise location of the contamination,” Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for food policy and response, says in a statement.

The CDC in November reported that more than 100 people in 23 states were infected with E. coli from romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, CA. A week earlier, more than 48 tons of premade salads sold at national chains were recalled, also over fears of E. coli contamination.

In December, the CDC announced that Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits could contain E. coli contamination. Eight people were sickened in that cluster of cases.

Finally, the FDA is working with Washington state officials to investigate an outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine sold at a local restaurant chain after 10 people fell ill in November.

“Because of the expansive nature of these outbreaks, our investigation remains a complicated work in progress, and it is too soon to draw definitive conclusions,” the FDA statement says. “The FDA, CDC and our state partners have identified a common grower between each of the outbreaks, which is a notable development.”

E. coli typically causes diarrhea, often bloody, and vomiting. Some cases last longer and become severe. Most people recover within a week.

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on December 14, 2019

Sources

FDA: “Statement on new findings and current status of the romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 outbreak investigation.”

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