The U.S. Food and Drug administration on Monday gave the all clear to consume romaine lettuce from Arizona, Florida, Mexico and California's Imperial Valley.
A produce industry group says it expects US health officials to scale back a public health alert warning people not to eat any romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak. Six counties make up the area - Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz. Grocers and retailers are being asked to post the information by the register for romaine that doesn't come in packaging.
It added that the break in supply appears to have been accomplished after officials requested on November 20 that the produce be withdrawn from the market and destroyed.
As of Monday, the FDA said the outbreak has resulted in 43 people becoming ill in 12 states, with the last reported illness onset date on October 31. Twenty days is the average amount of time that passes between when a person falls ill and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alerted, according to the FDA.
As no contaminated product has been found in the marketplace and the source of the contamination has not been identified, there have been no product recalls in Canada or the U.S associated with this outbreak.
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Now, the Malaysian Ministry of Health has issued a statement yesterday (26th November), confirming that Malaysia does import Romaine lettuce from the US and the ministry has been screening the imported lettuce using the "Stop, Test, and Release" protocol that was initiated on 23rd November.
The investigation continues into where the recent romaine lettuce containing a strain of E. coli bacteria originated. Those winter regions weren't yet shipping when the illnesses began.
Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be affected in the outbreak.
Major distributors in the leafy greens industry - including Fresh Express, Dole, and Taylor Farms - have agreed to voluntarily label the region in which their romaine lettuce was grown as well as the date after which it was harvested. The FDA last week advised anyone who had romaine lettuce in their homes or businesses to withdraw and destroy the leafy greens. "When the CDC comes out with a message that says 'Don't eat romaine lettuce, ' you should heed that advice", he says. It noted the labels are voluntary, and that it will monitor whether to expand the measure to other leafy greens and produce. There is usually a fever of less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people get better in a week or less, but some can experience life-threatening infection. Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications.