FDA and CDC are continuing to investigate the multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 and have issued some new information that I would like to share.
Currently, NC has not identified any illnesses associated with this outbreak, and the most recent onset date that has been reported to CDC is 10/30/2018. (There may be more recent illnesses that have yet to be reported, as average time from illness to report is 2-3 weeks per CDC).
Investigators have narrowed the region of concern to Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California. FDA has been working with industry partners on a recommendation that romaine lettuce packages will include labeling on harvest location and date. Please know that this is just a recommendation, so it is not enforceable if packages do not include harvest location labeling.
The most current guidance is that any romaine lettuce that has been grown outside the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California, is not considered to be part of the outbreak and can be consumed or sold. This also includes any romaine lettuce that has been grown in a greenhouse or hydroponically. Guidance from CDC and FDA states that if you do not know where the lettuce has been harvested from, it should not be consumed. Again, this is guidance and is not enforceable, and product should not be embargoed by local health departments.
I have included the full link to the update below. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Veronica Bryant, REHS
Emergency Preparedness and Outbreak Coordinator
Division of Public Health, Food Protection and Facilities
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
5605 Six Forks Road
1632 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1632