The harvest has now shifted to other areas and it was "critically important to have a "clean break" in the romaine supply available to consumers in the United States in order to purge the market of potentially contaminated romaine lettuce", the FDA said.
The labeling arrangement was worked out as the produce industry called on the FDA to quickly narrow the scope of its warning so it wouldn't have to waste freshly harvested romaine.
The romaine labeling effort is likely to be praised by consumer and food safety advocates as a positive step.
The CFIA is also implementing additional control measures to ensure products from California's Central Coast region are not being admitted to Canada, including greater scrutiny of product destined for this country.
The current outbreak, the one from Yuma and the one from past year were caused by contamination of an E. coli strain known as O157:H7. But it won't end pressure on FDA to move swiftly to finalize produce water safety standards that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act but have been delayed several years after produce growers, local food advocates and others connected to the sector criticized the regulations as being too complicated and unworkable for growers. The illness reports happened in October and romaine supply during that time is dominated by the golden state.
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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.
McEntire said the industry is considering multiple theories, including whether there is something about romaine that makes it more susceptible to contamination. "The devil is in the details".
As no contaminated product has been found in the marketplace and the source of the contamination has not been identified, there have been no product recalls in Canada or the U.S associated with this outbreak.
In Canada, as of November 23, 2018, there have been 22 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (4), Quebec (17), and New Brunswick (1). The latest outbreak, which coincides with California's major growing season, doesn't appear to be connected. Stores were told to pull all romaine from their shelves, and restaurants were ordered to stop serving it.
The CFIA is advising the food industry, including importers, not to import romaine lettuce from the suspect areas identified in the U.S. FDA's investigation, until further notice. At least two irrigation canals in the Yuma growing region pass by a large feedlot in Wellington, Ariz., though officials never pinpointed the feedlot as the source of the contamination.