Public Health Agencies Continue To Investigate E. Coli Outbreaks

November 23, 2020 – Public health agencies are actively investigating three E. coli outbreaks. The food item(s) that may have caused these illnesses has not been identified.

Status:
Yellow
Tracking a potential situation

Brief:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to investigate three outbreaks with possilbe links to romaine lettuce. Today public health agencies updated case numbers for one of these three outbreaks. Ill people include 39 individuals in one outbreak, 21 in another and 12 in the third. Investigations are ongoing to determine the sources in all outbreaks.

Officials are not advising people to avoid any particular food at this time. According to investigators, the pathogen causing illnesses in this outbreak is believed to be closely related to E. coli strains that have been associated with romaine lettuce in the past. But so far, romaine has not been confirmed as the cause of any of these three outbreaks.

What Lettuce Farmers Want You to Know

To assist health officials in determining if romaine is the source of the outbreaks, lettuce producers are opening up their farms and facilities to government investigators. To ensure people are kept safe, companies have issued recalls of certain romaine products with specific dates and UPC codes (11.06.20 and 11.17.20 add 11.21.20). However, the recalled items are either expired or not likely to be available at retail establishments any longer.

What Consumers Should Do

No food item has been identified as the source of these outbreaks, however three companies have recently issued recalls of certain romaine products with specific dates and UPC codes (11.06.20 and 11.17.20 add 11.21.20).  If you believe you have any of these products, check and discard any product matching the production descriptions in the recall links above.

What Stores and Restaurants Should Know

No consumer advisory has been issued for any lettuce or leafy greens product at this time. Three companies have recently issued recalls of certain romaine products with specific dates and UPC codes (11.06.20 and 11.17.20 add 11.21.20).  These items are expired and not expected to be in the supply chain any longer.

What Health Officials are Saying:

Public health agencies are emphasizing that the food item(s) linked to these illnesses has not yet been identified. They note that E. coli O157:H7 can contaminate many foods, but there is currently no information to indicate people should avoid any specific food.

Link to FDA on outbreaks with unknown sources 1 & 2

Link to FDA on outbreak with unknown source 3

Link to CDC information on all three outbreaks