Is it now safe to eat romaine lettuce? Not yet

Social Media Spread of Romaine Lettuce Ban Gets the Word Out

It said romaine from elsewhere should soon be labelled with harvest dates and regions so people know it's safe to eat.

The FDA, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned US residents last week not to consume the lettuce from anywhere because of an E. coli outbreak. Specifically, current evidence indicates this romaine was harvested in the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California.

"The FDA also has commitments from the romaine lettuce industry that such labeling will continue into the future and become standard for their products", Gottlieb said.

The growing and harvesting of romaine lettuce has shifted to the winter growing regions of California's Imperial Valley, the desert region of Arizona in and around Yuma, and Florida.

"Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the FDA continued to investigate the outbreak", according to a statement from FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

There is no recall of romaine lettuce in British Columbia, but several Island retailers have removed the item from store shelves or replaced it with romaine grown in area's known not to be have been affected by the outbreak. "Romaine lettuce entering the market can also be labeled as being hydroponically or greenhouse grown". United States officials are also coordinating with the Public Health Agency in Canada, which is also investigating a similar outbreak.

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The leafy greens industry agreed to establish a task force for solutions for long-term labeling of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens.

- Days after warning consumers to avoid all romaine lettuce, federal health officials are revising their guidance. The people who have gotten sick recently because of the same outbreak have also been observed to be infected with the similar fingerprint, as far as the recent E. coli strain which infected quite a few people a year ago, is considered. There are now 22 confirmed cases in Canada across three provinces: Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. The FDA will also start to sample romaine lettuce for contamination throughout the food supply chain.

Health officials warned people last week not to eat any romaine because they hadn't yet identified a source of contamination in the outbreak. Twenty days is the average amount of time that passes between when a person falls ill and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alerted, according to the FDA. Most at risk for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections are those younger than 5, older than 65 and with weakened immune systems.

"It gets a little mind-boggling when you think about how you make it clear for consumers", McEntire said.

This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad. However, some people may have a more serious illness that requires hospital care, or long-lasting health effects.

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