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FDA investigation

New findings and recommendations related to romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 outbreak

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the American public of a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to romaine lettuce and advised against eating any romaine lettuce on the market at that time.

Shortly after the FDA’s initial public warning, it was able to narrow down the scope of implicated product. Based on these initial findings, there was an updated public warning to consumers to avoid consuming romaine lettuce specifically from Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties in California.

By Nov. 23, the FDA Produce Safety Network, CDC, the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Food and Agriculture had assembled and deployed teams to inspect locations in California. On-site investigations included farms and lettuce cooling facilities. FDA teams have been on site at these locations continuously, collecting hundreds of samples for lab testing. These include soil, water and swab samples from surfaces and equipment.

Now there is a positive sample result for the outbreak strain in the sediment of a local irrigation reservoir used by a single farm owned and operated by Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Barbara County. The FDA will be sending investigators back to this farm for further sampling. It’s important to note that although this is an important piece of information, the finding on this farm doesn’t explain all illnesses and the FDA trace-back investigation will continue.

This positive sample from the single farm was collected by the FDA and analysed by the CDC and determined to match the outbreak strain of E. coli through Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis, the most precise DNA analysis available to us. Adams Bros. Farms is cooperating with the FDA in this outbreak investigation and this farm hasn’t shipped any romaine lettuce since Nov. 20.


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