Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Produce industry expects to ship some romaine again soon

It’s OK to eat some romaine lettuce again, FDA says Some romaine lettuce safe to eat again, FDA says
Johnnie Parks | 03 December, 2018, 19:42

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning consumers about eating romaine lettuce because of an E.coli outbreak, you may wonder how this recall affects you and when you can start eating lettuce again.

The produce industry is aware the problem is recurring, said Jennifer McEntire of the United Fresh Produce Association. "When the CDC comes out with a message that says 'Don't eat romaine lettuce, ' you should heed that advice", he says.

With regard to Romaine used in foodservice applications, the restaurant or other establishment is considered the end-user and must verify the product was sourced from approved areas but need not include signage, according to FDA.

When the reported illnesses started, most the romaine sold in the US was being grown in central California. But it says it's OK to eat romaine from parts of California and Arizona that were not harvesting when the illnesses began in October.

The produce industry plans to start putting harvest dates and regions on labels.

The FDA says romaine lettuce from other locations should soon be labeled with harvest dates and regions so people will know whether or not it's safe to eat.

The CDC announced on November 20 that any and all romaine lettuce products in the U.S. should be thrown away due to the risk. Since romaine has a shelf life of about 21 days, health officials said last week they believed contaminated romaine could still be on the market or in people's homes.

At least 22 people in Ontario Quebec and New Brunswick have been sickened in the outbreak
At least 22 people in Ontario Quebec and New Brunswick have been sickened in the outbreak

Officials believe the contamination specifically affects the "end of season" lettuce harvested from these farms, which span from central to northern California. An additional 18 people have become sick from the same strain of E.coli in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Several students said they observed what appeared to be romaine lettuce in Warren Towers' dining hall Sunday night, but Riley said the only lettuce served at that time were green leaf, iceberg and spring mix.

Officials had told consumers to throw out any romaine ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, citing an E.coli outbreak that sickened dozens in the US and Canada.

The FDA said it has no information to suggest that these growing areas are tied to the current E. coli outbreak.

The labeling is voluntary, and the industry said it will evaluate whether to extend it to other leafy greens.

The FDA said the produce industry also agreed to consider longer-term labeling options that would help identify and trace leafy greens. Industry leaders are hoping that federal officials will ultimately be able to tailor their warning to consumers and retailers to clear regions like Yuma from being implicated in the current outbreak.

The leafy greens industry also launched a task force after the deadly Yuma outbreak past year, an effort that resulted in some significant changes to growing practices, including a greater distance required between greens growing fields and animal livestock operations.

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