E. Coli Traced to One Farm; 7 More People Fall Ill

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Washington, D.C.—As of yesterday, the CDC announced that another 7 ill people have been included in the E. coli investigation, while the FDA announced that they have traced the source of the contamination to at least one specific farm.

The number of reported cases is now up to 59, in 15 states, with 23 hospitalizations. The number of deaths remains at 0, according to the CDC.The last reported illness onset date is November 16.

The FDA announced that they identified a positive sample result for the outbreak strain in the sediment of a local irrigation reservoir used by a single farm in Santa Barbara Country. The strain found in the sediment is a genetic match to the strain found in those who fell ill.

However, the FDA warned, their traceback work suggests that romaine lettuce from other farms could also be implicated in the outbreak, and that the reservoir in question doesn’t fully explain the outbreak.

The farm in question, owned by Adams Bros. Farms, confirmed to the FDA that it had not shipped any romaine lettuce since November 20.

As of December 13, the FDA’s investigation consists of records from five restaurants in four different states that have identified 11 different distributors, nine different growers, and eight different farms as potential sources of contaminated lettuce.

However, the FDA said, given the identification of the outbreak pathogen, the farms identified in the traceback, and the fact that the lettuce grown during the outbreak should be beyond shelf-life, the FDA feels that there is no longer a reason for consumers to avoid romaine lettuce from San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and Ventura Counties, provided it was harvested after November 23.

The FDA further reported that romaine lettuce is starting to appear on the market labelled with the harvest origin of the romaine, along with the date of the harvest. The FDA said that they are continuing to work with the industry to find long-term labeling solutions.

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