U.S.: Almost 100 sick as romaine lettuce-linked E. coli outbreak continues
U.S. authorities have identified one farm as the sole source of romaine lettuce that affected consumers in Alaska, but there is no common link to other cases other than that the product was grown in Yuma, Arizona.
An update today from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows 98 people are now ill from E. coli as a result of eating romaine lettuce from Arizona, with the percentage of hospitalizations remaining high at 47%.
Since its last update on April 25, the CDC has added three more states to the outbreak - Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
"The most recent illness started on April 20, 2018. Illnesses that occurred in the last two to three weeks might not yet be reported because of the time between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported to CDC," the agency said.
No deaths have been reported in this outbreak.
The Food and Drug Administration has identified Harrison Farms of Yuma, Arizona, as the grower and sole source of the whole-head romaine lettuce that sickened several people in an Alaska correctional facility, but has not determined where in the supply chain the contamination occurred.
"The agency is examining all possibilities, including that contamination may have occurred at any point along the growing, harvesting, packaging, and distribution chain before reaching the Alaska correctional facility where it was served," the FDA said.
"All of the lettuce in question from Harrison Farms was harvested during March 5-16 and is past its 21-day shelf life. Because the growing season in the Yuma region is at its end, the farm is not growing any lettuce at this time.
"The remainder of illnesses in this outbreak are not linked to romaine lettuce from Harrison Farms. Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten."
The FDA said the restaurants used bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads, and traceback "does not indicate that Harrison Farms is the source of the chopped romaine that sickened these people".
"The FDA is continuing to investigate the source of the chopped romaine lettuce that caused these illnesses and has identified dozens of other fields as possible sources," the agency said.
"The FDA recommends that consumers ask grocers, restaurants, and other food service establishments where their romaine lettuce originated, and avoid any romaine lettuce, whether chopped, whole head or hearts, that originated from the Yuma growing region.
"If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it. If you have already purchased romaine lettuce or products containing romaine lettuce and cannot confirm the source, throw them away."