The recent moratorium on Romaine lettuce sales was set to be eased November 26 by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which is in the process of issuing new guidance for the industry following an outbreak of E. coli that has been attributed to Romaine lettuce.
Robert Whitaker, chief science officer of the Produce Marketing Association, said labelling for romaine could help limit the scope of future alerts and rebuild public trust after other outbreaks. Health officials on Monday, Nov. 26, said it's OK to eat some romaine lettuce again.
"The FDA believes it was critically important to have a clean break in the romaine supply available to consumers in the U.S.in order to purge the market of potentially contaminated romaine lettuce related to the current outbreak", Gottlieb said. Florida groups said their growers hadn't started harvesting in October and major growers like Taylor Farms had social media campaigns saying this was a voluntary recall and they stand by their product and it's safety.
FDA worked with industry over the long Thanksgiving weekend to devise this latest guidance and the plan to include harvest dates and sources on the packaging.
The CFIA will implement additional control measures to verify that products from the areas identified in the U.S. FDA's investigation are not being admitted to Canada.
Now, the Malaysian Ministry of Health has issued a statement yesterday (26th November), confirming that Malaysia does import Romaine lettuce from the US and the ministry has been screening the imported lettuce using the "Stop, Test, and Release" protocol that was initiated on 23rd November.
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- Days after warning consumers to avoid all romaine lettuce, federal health officials are revising their guidance. The involved areas include the Central Coast growing regions of central and northern California.
The outbreak has sickened 43 people in 12 states, plus 22 people in Canada, according to the FDA. The FDA also noted hydroponically grown romaine and romaine grown in greenhouses aren't implicated in the outbreak.
The leafy greens industry agreed to establish a task force for solutions for long-term labeling of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens.
Officials had told consumers to throw out any romaine ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, citing an E.coli outbreak that sickened dozens in the USA and Canada. "If the dish contains (uncooked) romaine lettuce, it should be sent back or thrown out", she says. At this time, the investigation evidence in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick suggests that there is a risk of E. coli infections associated with eating romaine lettuce. Industry leaders are hoping that federal officials will ultimately be able to tailor their warning to consumers and retailers to clear regions like Yuma from being implicated in the current outbreak.
Already, the industry agreement in Arizona and California requires leafy green growers to test water for generic E. coli.