E. Coli Outbreaks: How Often are Leafy Greens to Blame?

    E. Coli Outbreaks: How Often are Leafy Greens to Blame?
    E. coli outbreaks are partially caused by the environment in which growing leafy greens.

    E. Coli Lawsuit Lawyer Recommends Those in High-Risk Population to Avoid Certain Foods: Sprouts and Leafy Greens Have Been Linked to Many Outbreaks

                The United States is currently enduring three separate E. coli outbreaks: two of the E. coli outbreaks having no known source, while the third outbreak is potentially linked to consumption of Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce. According to the CDC, the two outbreaks with “no known sources” have caused a combined 44 reported illnesses, 18 hospitalizations, and one death.  There have been at east 12 hospitalizations in the Tanimura & Antle outbreak.

    Because scientists have not found a contamination source in these two other outbreaks, there have been no recalls or warnings for consumers on what foods to avoid. There remain clues, however, says  National E. coli lawyer Ron Simon, who explains that both “unknown” outbreaks have links to previous outbreaks that were identified in romaine lettuce.  The strain of E. coli responsible for one of the mysterious outbreaks is a genetic match for a previous E. coli outbreak , while the “other” E. coli outbreak with no known source is also a genetic match to the strain of E. coli responsible for a 2018 outbreak – also linked to contaminated romaine lettuce. Furthermore evidence is suggestive of lettuce as well.  While interviewing victims from one of the two mysterious outbreaks, at least 13 people reported eating a variety of leafy greens in the week before getting sick.

    While officials cannot declare the root cause of the outbreak, it is highly possible that leafy greens are the source, due to the history of E. coli outbreaks and the proclivity of leafy greens to become infected. This proclivity has been well-established.  While examining 40 E. coli outbreaks that occurred from 2009 to 2018, scientists have found that romaine lettuce was the source of contamination for 54 percent of outbreaks, over half, respectively compared to spinach and iceberg lettuce, which individually accounted for 17 percent of outbreaks, and cabbage, green leaf, and kale, which individually accounted for 4 percent of outbreaks. The current hypothesis behind why romaine lettuce has caused so many E. coli outbreaks is simple: the leafy green’s structure. Compared to the densely packed leaves of iceberg lettuce, romaine’s loosely clumped leaves with an opening at the top enables easy access for food poisoning pathogens.

                 National E. coli lawyer Ron Simon, believes that the E. coli outbreaks are partially caused by the environment in which growing leafy greens, often in close proximity to fecal matter that contaminates the leaves. Because they require a great amount of water, leafy greens are typically grown outside in the United States, in locations with much less regulation, and typically in places surrounded by animals, a substantial source of E. coli.- contaminated fecal matter. Through cross contamination from the animals, handling, and fecal matter in the irrigation water, it is entirely plausible for leafy greens in these fields and farms to be poisoned with E. coli. Once the leafy greens have been contaminated with E. coli, it can be very difficult to remove depending on the level of contamination, meaning that even rinsing produce at home may not remove the bacteria. Most importantly, because leafy greens are typically eaten raw, the bacteria is spread directly to its consumer without an intervening “kill step.”

                E. coli lawyer Ron Simon stated that, “Although research is still needed when it comes to leafy greens contamination, one aspect remains clear: it is the responsibility of food producers to test for food borne illness causing bacteria before sending it for consumption, in order to avoid these appalling infections and outbreaks.”  Simon added, as an example, “another common source of e. coli and salmonella bacterial infection is sprouts, another plant with significant challenges in production and that is hard to clean and eaten raw.  I would recommend anyone who is in a high risk group to avoid these tow products.”






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