US officials say tainted romaine lettuce appears to be from California

US officials say tainted romaine lettuce appears to be from California

US officials say tainted romaine lettuce appears to be from California

The agency said that going forward romaine lettuce grown in the Central Coast region of California should be discarded, while product from elsewhere was no longer subject to a warning.

People shouldn't eat romaine that doesn't have the label information, the FDA said.

The commissioner also said that the industry would establish a task force to adopt standards for traceability of its products, as well as to determine how to stop future outbreaks. Romaine lettuce imported from Mexico should also be safe, the agency said.

Officials believe the contamination specifically affects the "end of season" lettuce harvested from these farms, which span from central to northern California.

The Food and Drug Administration is narrowing its blanket warning from last week, when it said people shouldn't eat any type of romaine because of an E. coli outbreak.

The FDA said there was no reason to believe that the romaine lettuce being grown in other large growing regions, including the California desert region of the Imperial Valley; the desert region of Arizona in and around Yuma; and Florida, would be contaminated. Stores were told to pull all romaine from their shelves, and restaurants were ordered to stop serving it. It didn't matter if it was chopped, whole head or part of a mix. U.S. officials are also coordinating with the Public Health Agency in Canada, which is also investigating a similar outbreak.

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Twenty-two people in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick have been sickened by E. coli since October. The bacteria can contaminate a wide variety of agricultural products through contact with feces from infected animals.

While some growers are happy with the scaled-back regulations (and the ability to stave off the costly testing process for at least a few more years), the at least 210 people recovering from E. coli linked to what is generally considered a health food likely have a different opinion of the current administration's cuts.

McEntire said the industry is considering multiple theories, including whether there is something about romaine that makes it more susceptible to contamination.

Federal investigators have found no connection between the current outbreak and the one that started this past spring. The strain in this one has the same genetic fingerprint as the one that caused illnesses late a year ago in the United States and Canada.

Food poisoning outbreaks from leafy greens are not unusual. That outbreak was declared over in January.

The current outbreak, the one from Yuma and the one from previous year were caused by contamination of an E. coli strain known as O157:H7. But other cases are severe or even life-threatening, including among children and older adults with kidney failure.

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