Why Is Romaine Lettuce Recalled So Often?

Posted by C. Bush, on July 27, 2020
romaine lettuce field
romaine lettuce field

Food safety is the responsibility of all persons that include food manufacturer, producer, retailers, regulators, distributors and consumer. Romaine lettuce produce prolonged heads and it is much nutritious. Romaine lettuce recall is necessary to know about the outbreaks occurred due to E.coli. These outbreaks and E.coli is linked with romaine lettuce. Its reported that there may be chances of reoccurring lettuce contamination. So it is essential to know about the source of contamination which effect consumer health. From recent years outbreaks from food borne pathogen have been markedly increased. Because these food borne pathogens can easily infected raw food commodities.

Romaine lettuce contamination

E. coli live in the intestine of animals, poultry and cattle naturally. Commonly romaine lettuce become contaminated by infected animals fecal material. But it can also be contaminated during harvesting, storing, handling and transportation.

Most E.coli types not cause harm to human but some cause serious problems. Grocery stores, raw meat, cutting boards and refrigerators are also major source of E.coli contamination. Young children, weak immune system, pregnant women, older adults are more prone at risk. Most of the romaine lettuce grown out of home where it can be exposed to the animals, soil and water.

These become the source of contamination. This food product is mostly eaten in raw form so its necessary to know how can microbial survival load can be reduce from this item and how can environment become most suitable for the lettuce cultivation. FDA have conducted many research to find out about E.coli outbreak its origin and give instructions to control this infection. During processing and chopping of romaine lettuce just a few leaves of romaine can cause the source of contamination of other salad bags.

Escherichia coli (E. Coli) Symptoms

E.coli have wide range of symptoms some people do not sick but spread disease to others. Vomiting, headache, nausea, stomach cramps, blood and watery diarrhea are common symptoms. Treatment of E.coli is not linked to any medicine it can be cure with care. Its can become severe and lead to kidney failure. After swallowing E.coli it takes two to eight days to produce Shiga toxin to get people sick. It is suggested that antibodies should not given to the E.coli infected patients because these might enhance the chances of illness and its benefits are not clear.

Romaine lettuce recall 2020

According to the new technology and food safety rules its a great benefit for us that rapid tracing and recalling of outbreak reasons occur. The products which are under process or recalling, consumer should avoid to eat these products and avoid to purchase these products from retailers and restaurants.

Its also illegal to the seller to sale recalled products. Romaine lettuce which is produced in Salinas Valley in California is contaminated and cause serious health issues so its ban to sale. People should avoid to grow romaine lettuce in Saline valley which is growing area in California. U.S. Food and Drug Administrationexternal (FDA) reported outbreak due to E.coli which is produce due to Shiga toxins in January 15, 2020. About 138 cases f food poisoning have been found due to the cnsumption of romaine lettuce which is growing in growing valley of California i.e. Salinas Valley.

Recalled products may be branded by retail store brand or with Fresh Express label. These recalled products can be sale in Indiana, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maine, Arkansas, North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New York, Wisconsin, Iowa, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, Michigan, Vermont, Virginia, Tennessee, District of Columbia and Maryland. As of July 8, 2020, CDC is reporting a total no. of 509 cases across 8 states. According to The Public Health Agency Fresh Express brand salads are major source of outbreak.

FDA are working with various retailers to check adulterated products in market and also remove the adulterated products for the health of consumer. PulseNet system is used for the identification of this outbreak. It is a national network and used by food agencies, laboratories with the coordination by CDC. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) method is used to standardize and analyze data in laboratories. People which are infected with E.coli their finger print are used for analysis. PulseNet are used to identify outbreaks by using national database sequences. There is the responsibility of whole genome sequencing to give information about bacteria which cause outbreak. Bacteria which are separated from ill persons have similar genetic material. Its means people are suffering from this outbreak have same source of infection. Whole genome sequencing also reported that common strain of E.coli which is E. coli O157:H7 is responsible of this outbreak in romaine lettuce and all green leafy vegetables.

After investigation report it is stated that 167 people are infected with outbreak of E.coli strainO157:H7 in 27 states. Several illness due to romaine lettuce are related genetically to the outbreaks in united states. According to the report it is estimated that ill people range from 1 to 89 years age. From which sixty four percent are female but no deaths were stated.

Whole genome sequencing reported that out of 159 patients just two people predicted resistant of these bacterial strain. One person have resistance strain for sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, streptomycin and ampicillin, and one person have resistant strain for ampicillin. Whole genome sequencing analyse five bacterial strains and all of these strains have not anti-microbial resistance. These five bacterial strains are isolated from contaminated romaine lettuce samples.

But CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) report of standard antibiotic resistant is in progress. These finding did not provide any treatment and guidance against E.coli O157 so these antibiotics can not recommended to the infected people. Interviews of infected persons are conducted to know that what they eaten in last week and which food ate before get sick. Out of 113 people 94 (83%) are reported that they ate romaine lettuce. According to the survey, it is reported that forty seven percent infected persons get sick by the consumption of romaine lettuce when they were interviewed.

They consume romaine lettuce from various restaurants and from their home. According to the survey of Wisconsin Department of Health Servicesexternal icon they found unopened packets of green leafy romaine lettuce at the home of infected persons. These infected persons have strains of E.coli O157:H7 which is responsible for outbreak. This infected person might not show any symptoms of infection but he can spread this infection to the other persons.

In another research of Maryland Department of Healthexternal icon have found the infections of E.coli O157:H7 and they also get romaine lettuce sample t the home of ill persons. In these both situations main romaine lettuce contamination source is Salinas Valley which is a growing region in California. FDA conducted a research to find out the major source of contamination of romaine lettuce. They found that romaine lettuce which is harvested in Salinas Valley growing region in California is prone to spread this outbreak. In 15 January 2020 it is reported that this outbreak is over because contaminated romaine lettuce which is grow in growing area of California i.e. Salinas Valley was ban to sale. There are some instructions to avoid infection and make consumer healthy by consuming healthy food.

How To Avoid E. Coli?

  • Properly wash hands before and after the preparation of romaine lettuce.
  • Before processing of romaine lettuce wash it under running water to remove all dust particles and all other foreign material.
  • If romaine lettuce labeled as a pre-wash on its packing material then there is no need to wash it again.
  • Cutting boards which use for raw meat, vegetables must be separate because its become the major source of contamination.
  • Raw and processed romaine lettuce must be placed in separate utensils.
  • If there is any need to store the romaine lettuce if refrigerator then its must b notices that raw meat must be away from it because drip juice become the source of contamination.

Guidance of E.coli infection

The most important prevention of E.coli outbreak is that to guide people about the food and provide them complete guidance of prevention. Its also include to technically guide industry and other stake holders to sale these kind of products. Water which is used for agriculture purpose must be clear from all germs and away from all contamination sources. Industries should conduct training programs, awareness sessions and proper inspection team to tackle all problems which may cause food poisoning. To reduce the risk of E.coli O175:H7 outbreak following actions must take quickly.

  • Consult to health care person and tell him detail.
  • Give complete information of all food items which consume before one week of getting sick.
  • Give true answers to the public health investigators.
  • Hand washing is a basic action which can save us from infections so always wash hand after using toilets, cooking and preparation of food and after changing diapers.

References

  • https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2019/o157h7-11-19/index.html#:~:text=Contaminated %20romaine%20lettuce%20that%20made,the%20outbreak%20strain%20of%20 E.
  • https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2019/o157h7-11-19/index.html
  • https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/outbreak-investigation-cyc lospora-bagged-salads-june-2020#:~:text=On%20June%2027%2C%202020%2C %20Fresh,the%20front%20of%20each%20package.
  • https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/public-health-notices/2019/outbr eak-united-states-e-coli-infections-romaine-lettuce.html#a2.
  • https://www.newsweek.com/romaine-lettuce-recall-update-people-hospitalized-e- coli-outbreak-cdc-1478427#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20update%2C%20 %22Current,on%20November%2021%2C%202019.%22.
  • https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-voices/fda-outlines-2020-action-plan-help- advance-safety-leafy-greens.
  • https://www.popsci.com/story/health/romaine-lettuce-recall-ecoli/
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