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Romaine lettuce from Salinas, Calif

Web posted on November 24, 2019

Health officials in the U.S. and Canada told people to avoid romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli grown in Salinas, Calif., because of another food poisoning outbreak in the United States.

Officials are urging consumers not to eat the leafy green if the label doesn't say where it was grown. They also urged supermarkets and restaurants not to serve or sell the lettuce, unless they're sure it was grown elsewhere.

The warning applies to all types of romaine from the Salinas region, include whole heads, hearts and pre-cut salad mixes.

"Canadian and U.S. health officials are collaborating to identify commonalities between the recent illnesses in an effort to identify the source of contamination affecting consumers," the Public Health Agency of Canada.

There is no outbreak of E. coli occurring in Canada. The U.S. CDC reportsg multiple illnesses in several U.S. states. There is one Canadian illness related to the U.S. outbreak that has been identified in the province of Manitoba. This individual became ill in mid-October.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed that romaine lettuce from the affected areas reported in the U.S. investigation is imported to Canada. CFIA has taken measures to protect consumers and is implementing new actions at the border to ensure that any affected romaine lettuce products are no longer being imported into Canada.

"We're concerned this romaine could be in other products," said Laura Gieraltowski, lead investigator of the outbreak at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CBC reports officials never identified how romaine might have become contaminated in past outbreaks.

Another outbreak in spring 2018 sickened more than 200 people and killed five was traced to tainted irrigation water near a cattle lot.

40 people report illness in 16 states

"It's very, very disturbing. Very frustrating all around," said Trevor Suslow of the Produce Marketing Association.

The CDC says 40 people have been reported sick so far in 16 states. The most recent reported illness started on Nov. 10. The agency says it's the same E. coli strain tied to previous outbreaks, including the one from November, 2018.