Large cattle farm may have caused romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

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This spring’s massive E. coli outbreak attributable to tainted romaine lettuce might have been attributable to a big industrial farm.

That is based on a brand new Meals and Drug Administration speculation.

A concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, is close to a canal whose water got here involved with the affected romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, rising area, the FDA stated. The water might have been used for irrigation, and pattern testing revealed in June that it was tainted with E. coli O157:H7 that had the identical genetic fingerprint because the outbreak pressure.

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This was the biggest multi-state E. coli outbreak within the U.S. in a dozen years. The contaminated lettuce sickened 210 folks in 36 states and killed 5. Ninety-six victims landed within the hospital, 27 of whom developed kidney failure.

“The CAFO can maintain in extra of 100,000 head of cattle at anybody time, and the FDA traceback data confirmed a clustering of romaine lettuce farms close by,” the federal authorities stated Monday. “Our specialists proceed to work on inspecting potential hyperlinks between the CAFO, adjoining water and geologic and different components that will clarify the contamination and its relationship to the outbreak.”

The identify and the operator of the CAFO the FDA is investigating hasn’t been launched.

Some CAFOs are criticized for the sturdy stench emanating from their farms, attributable to the massive quantity of feces generated by their animals.

E. coli stay within the atmosphere, meals, and folks’s and animals’ intestines and fecal matter, based on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. One often-cited piece of recommendation is to clean one’s palms fastidiously after utilizing the toilet or having contact with animals or locations the place they stay, like farms and petting zoos.

The micro organism in animal waste may make their means into water one in every of two methods, defined College of Florida food-safety knowledgeable Keith Schneider. Water can run downhill, particularly after rain, and make it into an irrigation ditch, or water can seep into an underground aquifer.

He advocates testing water earlier than it is used for irrigation or, within the case of bagged produce, washing the greens.

“You possibly can’t develop issues outdoors with out threat,” he stated. “‘Fixed vigilance’ is one thing we at all times say.”

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