Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced about a new multi-year study to enhance food safety.
The launch of this study follows a series of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in recent years linked to California’s leafy greens production regions, particularly three outbreaks that occurred in Fall 2019. Due to the recurring nature of outbreaks associated with leafy greens, the FDA developed a commodity-specific action plan to advance work in three areas: prevention, response, and addressing knowledge gaps.
“We’ve already made great strides executing our 2020 Leafy Greens Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) Action Plan by engaging with state partners to implement new strategies for preventing outbreaks before they occur, collaborating with industry partners to assess and augment response efforts when an outbreak occurs, and analyzing past leafy greens outbreaks to identify areas of improvement important to enhance leafy greens safety,” – the FDA comment.
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.
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.
Outline Of The Enhance Food Safety Study
Additional Information was given in the article from FDA:
- The California longitudinal multi-year study will examine how pathogens survive, move through the environment and possibly contaminate produce, through work with water quality, food safety, and agricultural experts from CDFA, the WCFS, representatives from various agriculture industries, and members of the leafy greens industry.
- The 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan (LGAP) contains a variety of actions the FDA, in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, will take to help ensure leafy green safety for consumers.
- The FDA continues to collaborate with all sectors of the leafy green industry to achieve the goals of the LGAP and to modernize our food safety system through the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative.
“The FDA is committed to providing innovative food safety approaches that build on past learnings and leverage the use of new information and data. Today we’re announcing a partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the University of California, Davis, Western Center for Food Safety (WCFS), and agricultural stakeholders in the Central Coast of California to launch a multi-year longitudinal study to improve food safety through enhanced understanding of the ecology of human pathogens in the environment that may cause foodborne illness outbreaks.”