In late November and early December, people across Canada and the United States become ill following the consumption of romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli. There were 42 cases of E. coli across Canada reported, and 25 in the United States. Several people were hospitalized, and two individuals died as a result of complications from the E. coli poisoning. Canada identified romaine lettuce as the culprit, but the United States wasn’t able to pin down a specific type of produce and cautioned consumers about all “leafy greens.”
The good news is, as of January 2018, romaine lettuce and leafy greens have been deemed safe to eat again. The last illness was reported on December 12, 2017. Why, however, do these food poisoning outbreaks keep happening? The answer is cross-contamination. E. coli bacteria live naturally in the intestines of cattle, poultry and other animals. Commonly, when produce is tainted by E. coli, it is due to coming into contact with infected animal feces. Lettuce and other leafy greens can become contaminated by bacteria in the field by soil, contaminated water, animals themselves, or manure.
What can be done to protect your family from E. coli? Proper food safety techniques will reduce the risk of an E. coli infection. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling food. When preparing lettuce, discard the outer leaves. Wash unpackaged lettuce with cool, fresh running water. Keep rinsing lettuce until all visible dirt has been washed away. Don’t soak greens in the sink, as your sink may be contaminated with bacteria. Use warm water and soap to wash all utensils, countertops, cutting boards, and storage containers to avoid cross-contamination. Lettuce should be used within seven days of purchase. Discard lettuce when the leaves become wilted or brown.
As you can see, it is very important to thoroughly clean produce before consuming. For extra protection, we recommend washing with CitroBio Fresh Food Wash which is effective against E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and other pathogens — click here to purchase on Amazon!