Here’s how experts know this E. coli outbreak is different

The E. coli outbreak that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency tied to Fresh Express BB #:115030 brand Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits also affects the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration said December 9 it also found that brand of salad mix the likely source of an outbreak that has led to eight illnesses in three states, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

FDA advises consumers, restaurants and retailers, and suppliers and distributors to not eat or serve the salad kits with UPC 0 71279 30906 4, beginning with lot code Z, and a best before date up to and including 07DEC19.

“This outbreak strain found in case patients is different from the outbreak strain of the larger E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine from the Salinas, California growing region,” FDA said.

“Preliminary information indicates that the romaine lettuce in the salad kits eaten by some sick people may have contained romaine from the Salinas growing region, though the romaine and other ingredients in the kit may have come from another growing region as well.”

Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology for United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458, said investigators most likely determined the outbreaks are not related at the genetic level, by whole genome sequencing.

That recent outbreak in the U.S. did not name a brand or farm, but she said there have been factors in this outbreak that investigators “can help hone in on the exact product quickly – consumers all purchasing one specific brand or eating one very specific item.”

Trevor Suslow, vice president of produce safety for the Produce Marketing Association BB #:153708, said investigators must have “felt confident that they could link individual cases to a particular product and therefore a specific processor to try and alert consumers and the trade if there still some of that hanging around.”

He also said the whole genome sequencing genetic matches came more quickly in this outbreak compared to more recent ones in the U.S.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services