The Arizona Tribune

E.coli’s Outbreak and its Lettuce Link

The fresh shipment of romaine Lettuce has reached the shelves on the store of Yuma, Arizona. After a long confusion and panic of the spread of E.coli pathogen by lettuce, the air is still not clear. The only assurance given is, the shipment has been produced in the unaffected area. But, the risk has never subsided. The food safety alert, hospitalizations, and abandoned products have not been forgotten from the minds of the people in Arizona and California.

Farm to Plate
The one thing that is certain is Lettuce is the perfect vehicle for carrying E.coli to the food plates of Americans. Lettuce has shown this feature of carrying foodborne illness before as well. But, the one thing that irks the authorities is how E.coli is spreading through Lettuce. The mystery is yet to be resolved, and now we have various versions of explanation for this. Many factors like water, soil, air, climate or animal intrusion are standing out. But, here we have to note that, the bowl of salad in the whole America is not safe from contamination.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) confusion-
The fed told the public that the reason of outbreak is lettuce from the Yuma region. And later they linked the contamination to irrigation canal in Welton. And finally, they rested the case on the large cattle activity found at the Welton canal. So, it was evident that E.coli has been transferred from the cattle by the canal to the lettuce fields ultimately to the plates.

But, their claim was short lived when they found that the pathogen samples from the cattle are not matching with that of Lettuce fields. And not all the farmers depended on the canal water, but their farm products were contaminated as well. So, even now we don’t have an answer to the outbreak.

Romaine Lettuce; the love-
Romaine lettuce is very much famous throughout the country, unlike other farm products, these lettuces have been prone to Yuma region and some part of California. E.coli is pathogen generally found in the intestines of the cattle. But, as per the records we have more contamination due to E.coli has been spread by the green leafy vegetables than meat or beef. Romaine lettuce’s leaf type is responsible for the easy stay of this pathogen, some claim.

Yuma Farm –
The investigators claimed that the lettuces from the Yuma region and some from California were the real culprit for the outbreak. With citing the example of having been eaten Lettuce from the Yuma region farm and being sick, the final face of the outbreak was given. But, soon the claim had to be falsified. As the E.coli sample spread in other area was never the same what Yuma farms have with their lettuces.

FDA Norms-
Like every dimension, the FDA also opined that the farms were not properly following the new food safety regulation, that is why the E.coli outbreak happened. There also emerges the need for food safety modernization act.

Though there are much of confusions linked to this whole Romaine Lettuce story, we should remind all about the 2006 E.coli outbreak by spinach. The culprit might be any one or all of us. We as consumers have never been so aware or cautious of food safety. We need to change this attitude as it ultimately affects our health. And as for Government, the investigation should speed up owing to the risk involved. Proper inspection at the cattle operation, water quality after submergence and check on farms of hygiene should be given more importance.

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