LAST UPDATED: DEC. 6/18;
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: Nov. 26/18
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a statement in response to new information shared by the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with respect to their investigation into the current outbreak of E. coli O157 that has resulted in cases of illness in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and several U.S. states.
According to a statement that the U.S. FDA released on Nov. 26, preliminary trace back information points to romaine lettuce harvested in parts of California as the potential source of the outbreak of E. coli O157.
The Canadian government, working in collaboration with industry, is taking the following immediate actions in order to provide confidence that produce purchased in Canada remains safe to consume:
• 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.
• 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. This includes, for example, greater scrutiny of product destined for Canada.
Working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, the CFIA is continuing its food safety investigation into the current outbreak of E. coli O157 illnesses associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce. Information on the Canadian trace back activities will continue to be shared with the investigation’s partners in both Canada and the United States and aids American authorities with more data to inform their follow up activities.
The CFIA will also continue with sampling of all produce through its ongoing microbiological surveillance programs for imported fresh vegetables and salads. Samples from these programs are analyzed for pathogens, including E. coli O157. Romaine lettuce and pre-packaged salads containing romaine lettuce are included within this surveillance program.
On Nov. 27, the CFIA released a follow-up notice to industry advising distributors, importers, restaurants, retailers, and institutions not to distribute, import, sell, serve, or use romaine lettuce and products containing romaine lettuce harvested in parts of California that have been identified in the U.S. FDA’s statement due to potential contamination with E. coli O157. The notice also advised companies that are unsure if they have the affected products in their possession “to contact their supplier or industry trade group” and if the origin cannot be identified, “do not sell, use, or serve the product.”
Click here to learn about the actions that the CFIA is taking in response to the outbreak.
Click here for more information about the public health notice to consumers from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Click here to read the statement from the U.S. FDA.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach out to Lauren van den Berg, Restaurants Canada National Vice President, Government Affairs, at Lauren@restaurantscanada.org or David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec, at DLefebvre@restaurantscanada.org.