Federal health officials have linked an ongoing E. coli food poisoning outbreak to recently recalled romaine lettuce products shipped to 20 states, finding the same strain of bacteria in routine samples of the lettuce and those who became ill.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated investigation notice on November 10, stating the possible root cause of the ongoing multi-state E. coli food poisoning outbreak may be recently recalled Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce products.
Over the last several weeks, the CDC has monitored an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak which has caused at least 12 illnesses across six states, resulting in at least five hospitalizations.
Officials indicate whole genome sequencing linked the contaminated samples of romaine lettuce collected at the Tanimura & Antle produce farm to the strains of E. coli collected among ill people associated with this outbreak.
The link in between the romaine lettuce and e. coli strains was discovered after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development returned a positive result on a random sample testing of the produce at Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc. of Salinas, California.
The positive sampling resulted in a voluntary romaine lettuce recall by Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc. on November 6, which impacted 3,396 cartons of single heads of romaine lettuce products that were distributed to retailers and distributors in Alaska, Oregon, California, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, New England, Montane, Tennessee, Wisconsin, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Maine, Puerto Rico and Illinois.
Specifically, the recall impacted single head of romaine that were packaged on October 15 through October 16, in either 12, 15, 18, 0r 24 heads per case marked with the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9, and Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) codes 571280289SRS1 and 571280290SRS1.
At this time, the CDC is warning the public to stop consuming, selling or serving recalled Tanimura & Antle’s packaged single head romaine lettuce until the agency can definitively determine the source of the outbreak.
E. coli is a foodborne bacteria which lives in the intestines of people and animals and can become pathogenic, causing severe bowel pain and diarrhea when exposed outside of the human intestinal tract. The bacteria are commonly transmitted through contaminated water or uncooked food, or through contact with animals and infected persons.
Typically, the infection causes mild to severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps, bloody stools, and sometimes minor fevers lasting between five and 10 days. For individuals like young children, the sick and the elderly, the consequences may be more severe due to weakened immune systems, potentially resulting in the infection causing a serious condition known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which may lead to kidney failure or even death.
Consumers who believe they are experiencing symptoms of an E. coli infection are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider and write down what they ate in the week before they got sick.