Hold the Romaine Lettuce

Although the outbreak appears to be over the Public Health Agency of Canada says Canadians should 'always follow safe food handling tips for preparing lettuce.'

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are trying to pinpoint the exact region of where the strain of E.coli is coming from and if romaine lettuce is the source.

In a January 8 letter to CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, DeLauro didn't mince words: "CDC's stunning lack of guidance to consumers regarding this outbreak is unconscionable".

Cara Operations Ltd. instructed its various chains with locations in those five provinces and P.E.I.to stop serving dishes with romaine lettuce on December 27, spokeswoman Carmen Bain said last week.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued an updated public health notice stating that the E. coliO157:H7 foodborne illness outbreak in Canada, which that agency has associated with Romaine lettuce consumption, appears to be over. Canadian authorities declared their outbreak over on Wednesday.

While the outbreak does appear to be associated with leafy greens, according to CDC and FDA statements released yesterday, USA health officials have not confirmed a specific type, nor have any food recalls been issued. "Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection".

These seven new reports bring the total number of cases involving E. coli to 66 in the USA and Canada, with two of those cases being deadly.

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While Canada declared the outbreak in that country over on Wednesday, Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch said it was a little more hard for the U.S.to make that call.

While FDA has been largely silent about the outbreak while the investigation continues, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted about the outbreak this week. "We're working closely with partners to identify that source", Gottlieb said.

And some companies are not waiting to act.

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.

Consumer Reports warned last week that we should be avoiding romaine lettuce, but the Centers for Disease Control says it doesn't have enough data to support focusing only on romaine.

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