– Opinion –
I suppose it should not be a surprise. Outbreaks associated with lettuce, specifically the “pre-washed” and “ready-to-eat” varieties, are by no means a new phenomenon. In fact, the frequency with which this country’s fresh produce consuming public has been hit by outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria is astonishing.
E. coli and Lettuce 1: As of Dec. 29, 2021, 13 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from six states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from Nov. 27, 2021, to Dec. 9, 2021. Sick people range in age from 4 to 79 years, with a median age of 54, and 92 percent are female. Of 12 people with information available, four have been hospitalized and one person developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported.
CDC is advising not to eat Simple Truth Organic Power Greens and Nature’s Basket Organic Power Greens with “best if used by” dates through Dec. 20, 2021. Investigators are working to determine if additional products may be contaminated.
E. coli and Lettuce 2: As of Dec. 3, 2021, a total of 14 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from nine states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from Oct. 13, 2021, to Oct. 27, 2021. Sick people range in age from 2 to 76 years, with a median age of 26, and 79 percent are female. Of 12 people with information available, 4 have been hospitalized and 3 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported.
CDC reported that officials in Minnesota found E. coli O157:H7 in a package of leftover Josie’s Organics baby spinach collected from a sick person’s home. Whole genome sequencing (DNA fingerprinting for bacteria) showed that the E. coli O157:H7 in the leftover package of spinach is closely related to bacteria isolated from ill people. This means that the person likely got sick from eating the spinach.
Listeria and Lettuce 1: As of Dec. 23, 2021, the CDC reported that there are 16 illnesses related to this outbreak in 13 states. Twelve people have been hospitalized. Two deaths have been reported.
Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc., is voluntarily recalling from the market all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at its Bessemer City, NC, and its Yuma, AZ, production facilities due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. and is also suspending operations at both facilities to conduct an extensive cleaning and sanitation protocol. Products subject to the voluntary recall are identified by a product lot code beginning with either the letter “N” or “Y” in the upper right-hand corner of the package (see examples below) and will have a “Best if Used By” date between Nov. 30, 2021, and Jan. 8, 2022.
Listeria and Lettuce 2: According to the CDC, as of Dec. 21, 2021, 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from eight states. One death has been reported. Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 26, 2016, to Oct. 19, 2021.
As a part of routine sampling, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) collected a product sample of Fresh Express Sweet Hearts salad mix with a Use-By-Date of Dec. 8, 2021, for testing. The sample tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes and subsequent whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis determined that the Listeria monocytogenes present in the samples matches the strain that has caused illnesses in this outbreak. In response to the sample results and the ongoing outbreak investigation, Fresh Express voluntarily ceased production at the Streamwood, IL, facility and initiated a recall of certain varieties of its branded and private label salad products produced at the company’s Streamwood, Illinois facility. The recall includes all Use-By Dates of fresh salad items with product codes Z324 through Z350.
Not a new story
Here is just a sample of E. coli outbreaks based on information gathered by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Kansas State University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
|July 1995||Lettuce (leafy green; red; romaine)||E. coliO157:H7||74||1:MT|
|Sept. 1995||Lettuce (romaine)||E. coliO157:H7||20||1:ID|
|Sept. 1995||Lettuce (iceberg)||E. coliO157:H7||30||1:ME|
|Oct. 1995||Lettuce (iceberg; unconfirmed)||E. coliO157:H7||11||1:OH|
|May-June 1996||Lettuce (mesclun; red leaf)||E. coliO157:H7||61||3:CT, IL, NY|
|May 1998||Salad||E. coliO157:H7||2||1:CA|
|Feb.-Mar. 1999||Lettuce (iceberg)||E. coliO157:H7||72||1:NE|
|Oct. 1999||Salad||E. coli O157:H7||92||3:OR, PA, OH|
|Oct. 2000||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||6||1:IN|
|Nov. 2001||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||20||1:TX|
|July-Aug. 2002||Lettuce (romaine)||E. coliO157:H7||29||2:WA, ID|
|Nov. 2002||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||13||1:Il|
|Dec. 2002||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||3||1:MN|
|Oct. 2003-May 2004||Lettuce (mixed salad)||E. coliO157:H7||57||1:CA|
|Apr. 2004||Spinach||E. coli O157:H7||16||1:CA|
|Nov. 2004||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||6||1:NJ|
|Sept. 2005||Lettuce (romaine)||E. coli O157:H7||32||3:MN, WI, OR|
|Sept. 2006||Spinach (baby)||E. coli O157:H7 and other serotypes||205||Multistate and Canada|
|Nov./Dec. 2006||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||71||4:NY, NJ, PA, DE|
|Nov./Dec. 2006||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||81||3:IA, MN, WI|
|July 2007||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||26||1:AL|
|May 2008||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||9||1:WA|
|Oct. 2008||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||59||Multistate and Canada|
|Nov. 2008||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||130||Canada|
|Sept. 2009||Lettuce: Romaine or Iceberg||E. coli O157:H7||29||Multistate|
|Sept. 2009||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||10||Multistate|
|April 2010||Romaine||E. coli O145||33||5:MI, NY, OH, PA, TN|
|Oct. 2011||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||60||Multistate|
|April 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||28||
|June 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||52||Multistate|
|Sept. 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||9||1:PA|
|Oct. 2012||Spinach and Spring Mix Blend||E. coli O157:H7||33||Multistate|
|Apr. 2013||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||14||Multistate|
|Aug. 2013||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||15||1:PA|
|Oct. 2013||Ready-To-Eat Salads||E. coli O157:H7||33||Multistate|
|Apr. 2014||Romaine||E. coli O126||4||1:MN|
|Apr. 2015||Leafy Greens||E. coli O145||7||3:MD, SC, VA|
|June 2016||Mesclun Mix||E. coli O157:H7||11||3:IL, MI, WI|
|Nov. 2017||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||67||Multistate and Canada|
|Mar. 2018||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||219||Multistate and Canada|
|Oct. 2018||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||62||Multistate and Canada|
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