A second Ottawa resident has been infected with E. coli, due to the outbreak in Ontario, Quebec, and several USA states after consuming romaine lettuce.
It's OK to eat romaine lettuce again, the Food and Drug Administration said late Monday, lifting a nationwide ban on its sale and consumption but leaving it in place for a growing region in California.
Though there is likely romaine lettuce coming from non-contaminated regions in the USA, the FDA says the U.S. market should have a "clean break" in the romaine lettuce supply chain in order to ensure that all possibly contaminated lettuce is purged from the market.
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. The Canadian agency reported 22 confirmed cases in three provinces: Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. The FDA also noted hydroponically grown romaine and romaine grown in greenhouses aren't implicated in the outbreak.
The CDC has said that these cases are genetically unrelated to another E. coli outbreak earlier this year that killed five people and sickened 200.
Officials believe the contamination specifically affects the "end of season" lettuce harvested from these farms, which span from central to northern California.
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The labeling arrangement was worked out as the produce industry called on the FDA to quickly narrow the scope of its warning so it wouldn't have to waste freshly harvested romaine. The labels may be extended to other leafy greens, he said.
However, just six months before the recent deadly outbreak, the Trump administration delayed the new regulations for at least four more years.
The leafy greens industry agreed to establish a task force for solutions for long-term labeling of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens.
Robert Whitaker, chief science officer of the Produce Marketing Association, said labelling for romaine could help limit the scope of future alerts and rebuild public trust after other outbreaks. "Since, then harvesting of romaine lettuce from this region has ended for the year".
The FDA said it has no information to suggest that these growing areas are tied to the current E. coli outbreak. Contaminated irrigation water near a cattle lot was later identified as the likely source. But officials in Canada identified romaine as a common source of illnesses there.
The updated information follows an unusually broad warning that federal health officials issued two days before Thanksgiving, telling consumers to throw away any romaine lettuce they may already have purchased.