“Who crapped in my salad?” Farm workers despoil US food supply
April 22, 2018 Headline Health
HEADLINE HEALTH) On a tour of farms in central Mexico state of Querétaro in 1990, this writer saw acres of vegetable fields stretching as far as the eye can see.
But one thing was not in sight anywhere – a bathroom. Roadside gutters sufficed, and very often, these open latrines were located immediately adjacent to fields of broccoli and other crops grown for export to the United States.
Last week, the CDC urged that all romaine lettuce anywhere in the country be thrown away due to e. coli contamination. New details below …
At least 64 with E. coli in 16 States Linked to Romaine Lettuce from Yuma Arizona
BY BILL MARLER, FOOD SAFETY NEWS | APRIL 22, 2018
As of Friday night, the CDC reported 53 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 being reported from 16 states. However, the CDC reported only 1 case in Alaska while the Alaska Department of Public Health reported 8 ill from the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome, and that its investigation had confirmed that the whole head romaine lettuce consumed by the Nome patients was grown in Yuma, Arizona.
In addition, the CDC reported 6 ill in Montana while the Montana Department of Public Health reported 8 and the CDC reported 3 ill in Arizona while the Arizona Department of Health reported 5. The CDC further reported that 31 people have been hospitalized, including five people who have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The hardest hit states are Alaska with 8 ill, Idaho with 10 ill, Montana with 8 ill, New Jersey with 7 ill, and Pennsylvania with 12 – 5 states with 45 ill – 19 in the other 11.
As of a few moments ago, I had been contacted by nearly 30 people, most of whom are clearly part of the CDC’s and states’ counts.
However, some with E. coli O157:H7 are awaiting contact by health officials.
In addition, two patients (13-year-old from New York and a 6-year-old from California) that I spoke to their families this morning, both recently developed HUS, and may not yet be counted in the CDC totals. Given that I have also been retained by a 23-year-old HUS patient in Idaho and two adult HUS patients in New Jersey, I think the CDC count of five with HUS, is unfortunately low.
Counting the bodies in an outbreak can be the easy part; positive stool cultures for E. coli O157:H7 are genetically matched by PFGE (unclear if state and CDC labs are doing WGS yet) and people are interviewed to determine what they consumed in the 3-5 days before the onset of illness.
That is how the state health authorities and the CDC have determined (thanks to the prisoners in Alaska) that whole head and chopped romaine from Yuma Arizona is the cause of this outbreak – that is likely to grow in number.
Tying the Chain Together:
What we know: there is a cluster of cases in the East – New Jersey and New York – that share a common exposure of eating salads with romaine lettuce at Panera Bread…
PREVIOUSLY: E. Coli Warning Covers ALL Romaine Lettuce: CDC
(Headline Health) Earlier this week, we warned readers of the potential dangers of produce harvested by Mexican farmworkers, who are accustomed to spending long days in fields that have no toilets, even port-a-potties.
Now comes word that romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona – a growing region specifically chosen for its immediate proximity to Mexico – is making people sick as far away as Alaska. All romaine lettuce should be thrown away, says the CDC. Details below …
(CNN) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its warning about an E. coli outbreak to cover all forms of romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona, area, including whole heads, hearts of romaine, and chopped forms of romaine, including salads and salad mixes.
The CDC based the new warning on eight new cases of acute gastroenteritis at a correctional facility in Nome, Alaska, that appear to be connected to the current outbreak affecting 53 people in 16 states. Thirty-one of those have been hospitalized, the CDC said, and five people have developed kidney failure.
While the current cases are connected to the Yuma, Arizona, area, the CDC warns that package labels do not often identify growing regions. Therefore, consumers should throw out any romaine lettuce in their homes, even if partially eaten, and avoid eating romaine at restaurants unless the establishment can confirm that the lettuce is not from Yuma.
Since lettuce is suspected to be the cause of the current outbreak, would it help to wash your greens before eating? No, said Ian Williams, chief of the CDC’s Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch.
“This bacteria can actually get inside the lettuce leaf,” he said. “Washing it doesn’t make it safe.”
My suggestion – buy organic foods until this is cleared up.