NEW YORK – Health officials in the US and Canada told people on Tuesday to stop eating salamage for the new E. coli outbreak.
The US Food and Drug Administration said it worked with outbreak officials in Canada who had 32 in 11 states and 18 in Canadian provinces Ontario and Quebec.
The identified strain differs from that of the romaine at the beginning of this year, but looks similar to last year's outbreak associated with leafy greenery.
FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency did not have enough data to search for a recall supplier, but suggested that supermarkets and restaurants should retire the romaine until the source of contamination could be identified.
Contaminated salad is probably still on the market, Gottlieb told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
He said the FDA wanted to issue a warning before people gathered for food, where the potential for an explosion could increase.
"We felt some pressure to shorten our conclusions as quickly as possible," he said.
Most of the romaine sold at this time of year grew up in California, Gottlieb said. The Roman secretion associated with the E. coli epidemic earlier this year was from Yuma, Arizona. The epidemic, which tortured about 200 people and killed five, was blamed for polluted irrigation water.
There are no deaths in the current epidemic, but 13 in the United States and six in Canada are hospitalized. The last reported American disease was October 31, while the latest disease in Canada was at the beginning of this month.
Searching the source of contaminated salad can be difficult because it is often repackaged by intermediaries, said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in Public Interest. This may mean that the entire industry is in the pipeline, even if not all products are contaminated.
"One of the production problems is that it can be very difficult to find a trace," she said.
She said washing the contaminated salad would not ensure the killing of harmful microbes.
E. coli infections can cause symptoms including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people recover after a week, but some diseases may last longer and be more difficult.
Health officials remind people of the proper handling and cooking of the bird of thanksgiving in the midst of the widespread outbreak of salmonella associated with raw turkey. Last week, Hormel recalled some of the Jennie-O turkish packets that regulators could link to an illness.
But unlike Romain Salad, regulators do not warn people to avoid the turkey. Salmonella is not forbidden in raw meat and poultry, and the US Department of Agriculture, which is in raw meat overseas, said cooking should kill any salmonella.