FDA finds a source of e coli-tainted romaine

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has narrowed in on three California counties linked to an E.coli outbreak in romaine lettuce.

"While the analysis of the strain found in the people who got ill and the sediment in one of this farm's water sources is a genetic match, our traceback work suggests that additional romaine lettuce shipped from other farms could also likely be implicated in the outbreak".

13, 59 people in 15 states had become ill during this E. coli outbreak, the FDA said, with the last reported illness beginning almost a month earlier on November 16. Farms in Santa Barbara County tested positive for the bacterial strain and the owners are co-operating with US officials. Romaine lettuce from these areas is now safe to consume. As of December 13, the FDA and CDC said its investigation revealed that five restaurants in four states had identified 11 distributors, nine growers and eight farms as potential sources of contaminated romaine lettuce.

A positive (for e.coli) sample from the reservoir used by Adam Bros.

As part of the ongoing investigation, health officials will try to determine why romaine lettuce seems to be particularly susceptible to E. coli contamination.

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Initially, the FDA warned the public not to eat romaine from Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties in California, while romaine producers and distributors voluntary agreed to label the product with its specific origin and harvest date.

"What we are seeing is there are multiple distributors and multiple processors and multiple farms that show up in the various legs of that traceback and they don't all lead back specifically to this farm", said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Senior Advisor to the FDA commissioner.

US regulators said people should only buy lettuce with a label listing where and when it was harvested. Family Farms, was one of eight farms on the Central Coast the organization is investigating in regards to the outbreak. No deaths have been reported. Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, including two people who developed a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Farms said he could not comment on the government announcement.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, which can be bloody, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

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