NEW YORK – Healthcare workers in the United States and Canada told people Tuesday to stop eating a Roma lettuce over the new E. coli epidemic.
The Food and Drug Administration of the United States says it has been cooperating with Canada officials on the outbreak of an epidemic involving 32 people in 11 states and 18 in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
The identified virus is different from that associated with the novel earlier this year, but seems to be similar to last year's phenomenon associated with leafy vegetables.
FDU Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency did not have enough information to ask suppliers to recall, but he suggested that supermarkets and restaurants should withdraw the novel until the source of contamination can be identified.
Contaminated lettuce is probably still on the market, Gottlieb told the Associated Press in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
He said the FDA wants to issue a warning before people gather for Meal Thanksgiving meals, where the potential for exposure could increase.
"We had the pressure to draw conclusions as soon as possible," he said.
Most romaine sold this year of the year are grown in California, Gottlieb said. The Romanian salad associated with the E. coli epidemic earlier this year was from Yuma, Arizona. This epidemic, which hurt about 200 people and killed five, was blamed for poor water for irrigation.
No deaths have been reported in the current phenomenon, but 13 people in the United States and six in Canada have been hospitalized. The last reported disease in the United States was on October 31, while the latest disease in Canada was earlier this month.
Tracing the source of contaminated lettuce can be difficult, as it is often repackaged by intermediaries, said Sarah Sorcer, deputy director for regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the public interest. This may mean that the whole industry becomes involved in epidemics, even if not all products are contaminated.
"One of the problems with production is that it can be very difficult to find back," she said.
She said washing the contaminated lettuce would not ensure that harmful bacteria were killed.
E. coli infections may cause symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people recover within a week, but some diseases may last longer and be more severe.
Health workers also reminded people to properly cope and collect birds for gratitude in the wake of the widespread occurrence of salmonella associated with harsh Turkey. Last week, Hormel recalled some Jenny-O's packages that the regulators could have linked to the disease.
But unlike the Romani lettuce, regulators do not warn people to evade Turkey. Salmonella is not banned in raw meat and poultry, and the US Department of Agriculture, which sells raw meat abroad, said that cooking should kill any salmonella.
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