The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, as well as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Food and Drug Administration. The aim is to investigate an outbreak of E. coli infections in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and several states of the US.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation into the current outbreak of E. coli O157 illnesses associated with romaine lettuce in Canada and the United States.
The illnesses that were detected as part of this E. coli O157 outbreak occurred over a period of a few weeks from mid-October to early November. The challenge for food safety investigators is identifying the specific origin of the product, farm and date of harvest for romaine lettuce that was in the eastern Canadian market at that time.
In the current case, epidemiological evidence has pointed to romaine lettuce as the common product. However, no common source of contamination has been identified so far. All products sampled as part of this investigation have tested negative for E. coli O157 and we have not been able to identify any contaminated product in the Canadian marketplace.
Since April 1st, 2017, the CFIA has also tested more than 2000 samples of imported fresh vegetables and salads, including romaine lettuce and pre-packaged salads containing romaine lettuce as part of its regular microbiological surveillance program.
Inspection.gc.ca reports how the CFIA has increased its sampling and testing of romaine lettuce across Canada in light of the current situation. The sampling program involves romaine lettuce from different growing regions and different harvest periods.
The CFIA is also working in close collaboration with federal and provincial health partners and our United States counterparts in an effort to identify how product is contaminated so that the root cause can be addressed. This work is ongoing and we are committed to keeping Canadians informed.