Coli Cases Identified: Consumer Reports Says Romaine Still a Risk to Eat

U.S. Officials Not Ready to Blame E. coli Outbreak on Lettuce

American officials said that the outbreak in the United States was most likely caused by "leafy greens", and their counterparts in Canada specifically identified romaine lettuce as the source of the infections there.

Agricultural industry associations in the United States reported that public health authorities in Canada declared an end to the outbreak of infections caused by E. coli O157: H7 bacteria, associated with consumption of romaine lettuce, while in the US the Centers for Control and Prevention of Diseases (CDC) continue to investigate, but do not consider that there is a risk for consuming green leafy vegetables.

No common supplier distributor, or retailer of leafy greens has been identified as a possible source of this outbreak. 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. Across Canada and 15 states in the US, including IL, dozens have been infected and two people have died.

It says there have been no reports on the onset of illness since December 12. Two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, reported the Centers for Control and Prevention of Diseases.

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Consumer Reports say you should also stay away from romaine lettuce served in a cafeteria or restaurant.

"State and local public health officials continue to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started". Because of this, the CDC is not recommending that USA residents avoid any type of particular food. Of 13 people interviewed, all 13 reported eating leafy greens. Consumer Reports still warned against eating romaine.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency - which is similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - tested samples of romaine lettuce as part of the outbreak investigation.

Based on that information, officials say that ill persons in this outbreak are not more likely than healthy people to have eaten romaine lettuce. Food safety advocates there "continue to think it prudent to avoid romaine lettuce for now", according to Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. Some companies (the fast food chain Wendy's and Compass-the country's largest food service company) have voluntarily withdrawn all romaine lettuce for the time being, though there is no indication that these companies were connected to the outbreak.

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