Are you aware that the Romaine Lettuce found at your local grocery store might be infected with E. coli? Here’s all you need to know about this unfortunate outbreak of romaine lettuce E. coli 2019.  

Where is E. Coli Romaine Lettuce from? 

In the light of recent Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak in the USA. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)have issued food safety alert. The United States Food and Drug Administrationand Food Safety and Inspection Servicealong with CDC. are on top of things and looking into reasons why the romaine lettuce specifically coming from Salinas, California region in the United States is infected with E. coli. 

So, why is an infection in the USA. a cause of concern in Canada? According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA.), romaine lettuce from the affected areas is commonly imported to Canada, particularly at this time of year. Therefore, romaine lettuce E. coli Canada is a growing concern. 

This outbreak is common in the US. As of 27th November 2019, 67 individuals have been infected across 19 states. Out of these, 39 individuals have been hospitalized and 6 have developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported. 

Since 22nd November 2019, one E. coli case has surfaced in Canada. The individual belongs to the province of Manitoba and became ill in mid-October. It is essential to note this illness was also reported previously in E. coli outbreaks experienced in 2017 and 2018 linked to romaine lettuce. To identify the source of contamination in all three cases, the US. and Canadian health officials are collaborating to identify the common denominators. 

What is E. Coli? 

  • coli is the abbreviation of Escherichia coli. This bacterium is found within intestines of cattle, poultry and other animals. There are some types of E. coli bacteria which are completely harmless; on the contrary, there are also some cases which make individuals sick enough to havediarrhoea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and respiratory illnesses. These types of E. coli are spread when animals or peoplecome into contact with contaminated water and food. 

What Are E. Coli Symptoms? 

Here’s how you can tell if you have accidentally eaten contaminated lettuce and are suffering from E. coli symptoms. Some common symptoms include the following: 

  • Severe stomach cramps 
  • Continuous vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 

These symptoms typically surface in the span of two to eight days. You can ease diarrhoea by taking the best digestive enzyme supplements. As digestive health supplements can ease digestive spasms due to diarrhoea, dyspepsia, flatulence, indigestion and nausea. We recommend visiting your doctor to ensure you get the best medical advice and a speedy recovery. 

Unfortunately, some individuals might also suffer from a more serious side effect, which is the Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Individuals with a weak immune system such as children and elderly are more likely to contract this rare condition which causes kidney failure. 

How Does E. Coli Get on Romaine Lettuce? 

If you are wondering what causes E. coli in lettuce, or how does E. coli spread? Then you have come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look.  

As mentioned earlier, E. coli is a naturally occurring bacteria present within the intestines of cattle. One of the leading causes of E. coli contamination is due to infected animals passing feces on raw vegetables and fruits. Apart from this E. coli and romaine lettuce outbreak could be potentially caused due to improperly composted manure, infected animals, soil or water. 

Furthermore, romaine lettuce can also be contaminated in the process of harvesting, handling, storing and transporting. What’s even more shocking is that E. coli in romaine lettuce can also develop due to cross-contamination which can take place at the grocery store shelf, refrigerator or even at the store counter. Did you know it can even spread from cutting boards? This cross-contamination of harmful bacteria can happen due to seafood, raw meat and poultry. 

Though officials are conducting investigations to get to the bottom of the matter, the exact reason for the contamination of romaine lettuce is yet to be detected. 

Steps to Avoid E. Coli 

Make no mistake food safety is a top priority for CFIA. Therefore, appropriate actions are being taken in conjunction with the Government of Canada to ensure the safety of citizens across the country. These include the following: 

  • Importers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and institutions are being advised to put a hold on selling, serving, importing and distributing romaine lettuce. 
  • Products made with romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas region of California are also at a high contamination risk of E. coli 0157:H7 according to the US. FDA. 
  • CFIA is taking measures to ensure these products are no longer being imported to Canada. 

However, not all hope is lost. If you enjoy eating romaine lettuce, then switch to produce grown in Canada. 

Practical Steps for E. Coli Prevention? 

We all know the age-old saying; prevention is better than the cure. Therefore, CDC. advises consumers to avoid romaine lettuce imported from Salinas, California. Most producers label the harvest location, so the next time you are at the grocery store, be sure to read the label. To ensure you are absolutely safe from this unfortunate ailment, avoid organic romaine, romaine in salad wraps, whole heads of romaine and even precut and packaged romaine.  

If you run a local restaurant business or are a shop keeper, we recommend you read labels as well as ask suppliers about the harvest location of the lettuce. After all, you don’t want your valuable customers getting sick now, do you? 

Measures to Take When You Have E. Coli 

In case you suspect getting E. coli infection, then we recommend taking the following steps: 

  • Visiting your healthcare practitioner 
  • Backtracking everything you ate the week before getting ill 
  • Report your local health department regarding your illness 
  • Wash hands frequently after using the restroom, before preparing food or coming into contact with surfaces to avoid infecting others around you. 

Takeaway 

Unfortunately, it could be a while before Salinas growing regions imported romaine lettuce is safe for consumption again. Keep updated with the local news to ensure you stay safe and healthy. Consult your doctor and seek advice if you can takebest digestive enzyme supplements to improve your condition.