Coli Outbreak Tied to Leafy Greens Likely Over, CDC Says

General Manager Dale Huss looks over a field of romaine lettuce with drip lines installed in it at Sea Mist Farms in Castroville Wednesday

The Public Health Agency is still advising Canadians to always follow safe food handling tips for preparing lettuce, but says it's no longer advising consumers in the affected provinces to consider types of lettuce other than romaine.

In a tweet this week, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA (the agency that would be responsible for issuing any product recall), said that the FDA "will continue to update on the recent E. coli outbreak". Sometimes outbreaks end before enough information is gathered to identify the likely source. Nine of those people have been hospitalized, two of whom are suffering from a form of kidney failure.

The last reported illness in the United States was on December 12, suggesting that the risk of buying food contaminated in the current outbreak had passed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement on Wednesday. Some individuals may develop a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can be life-threatening, although most people recover in a few weeks. CR said it's also important to remember it's not just the romaine found at the grocery store, but also what people may find in a cafeteria or restaurant. Those samples are "closely related genetically" to the STEC O157:H7 strain from ill persons in Canada.

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In the US, the CDC did not make any recommendations to the public about avoiding any foods in its initial December 28, 2017, media statement on the outbreak or in today's update.To date, only half of the USA victims have been interviewed by outbreak investigators. Of 13 interviewed, all 13 said they ate leafy greens.

However, Consumer Reports is urging everyone to not eat romaine lettuce.

Boston Pizza International Inc. also temporarily suspended the sale of all types of romaine lettuce at the pizza joint's locations in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada as of December 26.

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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency - which is similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - tested samples of romaine lettuce as part of the outbreak investigation.

CDC and FDA will continue to update the public as more information on the outbreak source is uncovered.

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) highlighted that the vegetable industry associations are working with government agencies to help with research. Some companies (the fast food chain Wendy's and Compass-the country's largest food service company) have voluntarily withdrawn all romaine lettuce for the time being, though there is no indication that these companies were connected to the outbreak.

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