On November 12, was announced that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the U.S.) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in collaboration with state and local partners, is investigating illnesses in a third multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections this Fall.
Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. E. coli are a large and diverse group of bacteria. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses.
Third Multistate E. coli Outbreak
According to the information from FDA on November 6, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) reported that as a part of routine sampling, they collected a product sample of romaine lettuce for testing. The sample tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 and subsequent whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis determined that the E. coli O157:H7 present in the samples matches the strain that has caused illnesses in this outbreak.
“At this time, there is not enough epidemiologic and traceback evidence to determine if ill people in this outbreak were exposed to romaine lettuce from Tanimura & Antle, Inc. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available,” – the FDA said.
On November 6, 2020, Tanimura & Antle, Inc. recalled this product based on test results from a product sample collected and analyzed by MDARD before the WGS analysis showing the match to the outbreak strain was completed.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Tanimura & Antle Inc. is voluntarily recalling its packaged single head romaine lettuce under the Tanimura & Antle brand, labeled with a packed on date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020, due to possible contamination with E. Coli 0157:H7. Packages contain a single head of romaine lettuce with the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9. No other products or pack dates are being recalled. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the recalled product,” – Tanimura & Antle Inc. commented.
The FDA Has Taken A Number Of Actions:
- Published a report following our investigation into three 2019 outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 in leafy greens grown in the Salinas Valley, California, which further increased understanding of how the leafy greens may have become contaminated and the impact of animal activity on adjacent and nearby land as a potential contributing factor.
- During the 2020 growing/harvest season, in collaboration with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), prioritized inspections and other surveillance activities at farms identified by traceback in E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that occurred in 2019 resulting in contamination of romaine lettuce in the Salinas Valley growing area.
- Initiated a longitudinal research study with CDFA and other agricultural partners in California to improve food safety through enhanced understanding of the ecology of human pathogens in the Salinas, California region environment that may cause foodborne illness outbreaks.
In recommendations for consumers, restaurants, and retailers, from FDA, – “Should not eat, sell, or serve recalled Tanimura & Antle, Inc. brand packaged single head romaine lettuce with a pack date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020. Product was shipped in cases packed in either 12, 15, 18 or 24 heads per case. Retailers and distributors can identify the potentially affected products through the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) sticker attached to exterior of the case.”