LGMA Responds to an Inactive Outbreak of E. Coli Potentially Associated with Romaine Lettuce

Written by April Ward

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released information about an inactive E. coli outbreak involving 23 illnesses possibly associated with romaine lettuce occurring between July 12 and Sept. 8, 2019.

No public health agency is advising consumers to avoid eating romaine and no suspected product remains in marketing channels. According to the FDA, its investigation has reached its end and the outbreak appears to be over.

According to the FDA, “When romaine lettuce was identified as the likely source of the outbreak, the available data at the time indicated that the outbreak was not ongoing and romaine lettuce eaten by sick people was past its shelf life and no longer available for sale.”

“The leafy greens industry’s goal is always to produce safe food. We continue to work alongside public health agencies to improve the safety of leafy greens and to learn everything we can about how to improve our food safety practices,” said Dan Sutton, Chairman of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.

“When investigators first learned of this issue they immediately began working with growers to help them identify if romaine was the source of this outbreak,” said Sutton. “Traceback information was instrumental in leading investigators to farms in central California that supplied product which may have been consumed by some of the 23 individuals sickened in this event.”

The FDA is reporting their investigation did not identify a common source or point where contamination occurred. Extensive tests conducted on farms by FDA were all negative for traces of E. coli.

The LGMA will use any information gathered in this investigation to help us improve the mandatory food safety practices that are at the heart of our comprehensive food safety program. To further strengthen its role in preventing foodborne illness, the LGMA has appointed industry experts to serve on a series of new Subcommittees that have been formed to address specific areas involved in the production of leafy greens.

Our thoughts are with the individuals who were impacted by this outbreak and we are committed to doing everything possible to prevent future incidents.

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