Tainted irrigation water is likely to blame for a 36-state E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce that sickened 200 people and caused five deaths, us health officials say. And yes, the romaine lettuce you buy at the store or pile on your plate at the salad bar now is safe to eat.
This has been the nation's largest E.Coli outbreak in more than a decade.
Almost 200 individuals were sickened in the E. coli outbreak and five individuals died.
In 2006, almost 200 people were sickened by tainted spinach in 26 states; a single California produce company was at the center of that outbreak. "But it's troubling that other strains of this risky bacteria were found in environmental samples and that no specific farm was identified".
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Experts aren't sure, but contaminated canal water is a strong culprit.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the outbreak has ended but work needs to be done to determine how and why this strain of E. coli got into the canals in Yuma, and how that led to contamination of lettuce from multiple farms.
"This is a broader contamination event that impacted a lot of farms and ranches, and then went into the supply chain and amplified out", said Bill Marler, a lawyer in Seattle who represents more than 100 people who were sickened. But no other farm, processing center, or distributor was ever identified in this outbreak. "The lettuce has a 21-day shelf life, which did help limit the case count". Five people died from the outbreak strain.
Dr Gottlieb also highlighted the scientific advances, new information technologies and laboratory techniques used to protect the public from outbreaks. Other kinds of E. coli cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia.