CDC is investigating an E. coli outbreak affecting 13 states, including Pennsylvania

CDC is investigating an E. coli outbreak affecting 13 states, including Pennsylvania

CDC is investigating an E. coli outbreak affecting 13 states, including Pennsylvania

Canadian health authorities have targeted romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada and are urging people to avoid the salad greens.

There are 41 cases of E-coli under investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador as of December 28.

"There is not enough epidemiologic evidence at this time to indicate a specific source of the illnesses in the United States", CDC spokesperson Brittany Behm told Consumer Reports on Wednesday.

In Canada, one person has died and 17 have been hospitalized.

"Even though we can't say with 100% certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that romaine lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", said James Rogers, director of food safety and research at Consumer Reports, in a statement.

The CDC says it is unable to recommend whether people should avoid a particular food while the source of the outbreak is still under investigation.

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'Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether USA residents should avoid a particular food, ' the report released last Thursday said.

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The CDC is conducting interviews with those infected with E. coli to determine whether there is a common cause.

There are many ways lettuce can be contaminated with E. coli: in the field through contaminated water or manure; during harvest; during transportation and storage; at a grocery store; or in the home through cross-contamination from raw meat or poultry.

"[The CDC and FDA are] being very conservative and cautious about this, but for consumers it's a very simple thing to do to buy another kind of leafy green until more is known about the risk", she said.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", says James Rogers, Ph.D., Director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports.

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