An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in New Brunswick, Canada that sickened at least 18 people in April has been linked to romaine lettuce, health officials announced Friday. Food Safety News covered this outbreak in Maywhen it was linked to Jungle Jim’s Eatery, but the specific food responsible remained a mystery. Ill persons ate at Jungle Jim’s Eatery in Miramichi between April 23 and 26. The lettuce was served in salads, wraps and hamburgers. According to CBC News, the outbreak strain also matched to cases of E. coli in Quebec and California. Health officials said the contaminated lettuce has expired and does not pose any additional health risk. Officials determined the lettuce as the likely source after interviewing 55 individuals — 18 sickened and 37 control cases. Those sickened were much more likely to have eaten lettuce during the outbreak window.

  • Was the lettuce pre-cut and bagged or whole heads? Or was it from whole heads that were bagged?
    I ask this because I generally feel safe eating lettuce from whole heads that I buy in the store or at farmers markets — as long as I keep them cold and wash the leaves before using them. Pre-cut lettuce leaves, on the other hand, can pose a risk because if good agricultural practices haven’t been followed, they can harbor pathogens, no matter how many times they’ve been washed. That’s because if there were any pathogens on the leaves when they were cut, those pathogens will migrate to the nutrients oozing out of the cuts. They’ll hang on so tightly that they can’t be washed off. (For more on this:
    In any case, when I hear about lettuce causing an outbreak, I always wonder if it was pre-cut lettuce. (The Canadian press release didn’t mention whether it was pre-cut lettuce.)
    Thanks for following up on this.

  • So, is the California case an ill person who ate lettuce in Canada and came to California, or ate lettuce in California – and where did the lettuce come from – California? Canada? Some where else?