Food Safety News reports that until the cause of the current outbreak is known and the implicated food is removed from the supply chain, CR's experts say consumers should avoid eating any romaine lettuce.
"Even though we can't say with 100% certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that romaine lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", said James Rogers, director of food safety and research at Consumer Reports, in a statement. "Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether USA residents should avoid a particular food". In Canada, the total number of infections is at 41, with 1 death and 17 hospitalizations. However, the type of E. coli making people ill resembles that linked to a similar recent outbreak in Canada, where the Public Health Agency of Canada identified romaine lettuce as the source, the CDC said.
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The unsafe strains of E. coli may cause illnesses such as diarrhea or even ones outside of the digestive tract and are often transmitted through food or via contact with infected people or animals.
Today, the Chicago Tribune broke the news that the United States' largest food service company, Compass Group, has suspended romaine use in its products during the pendency of the joint E. coli investigations. Food is often shipped to central plants from various farms, where it is processed, mixed together, packaged, and redistributed.
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When this type of E. coli, the Shiga toxin-producing identified as E. coli O157:H7, is consumed through contaminated food, individuals usually become sick within one to three days. State and local public health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in a week before their illness started. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is now trying to find the exact source of romaine lettuce.
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports has a made staunch warning to avoid eating romaine lettuce, at least until more information is made available about the outbreak. Most E coli are harmless and actually are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract.
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Yade says so far in Sudbury, there have been no reported illnesses linked to this outbreak.