By Teddy Cambosa
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a new report detailing their findings on the E. coli outbreak last year, which was linked to leafy greens.
According to the report, they determined that there are three key trends in the contamination of leafy greens by E. coli O157:H7 in recent years: a reoccurring strain, reoccurring region and reoccurring issues with activities on adjacent land. The 2020 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with leafy greens represents the latest in a repeated series of outbreaks associated with leafy greens that originated in the Central Coast of California (encompassing Salinas Valley and Santa Maria) growing region.
“In fact, the findings of foodborne illness outbreak investigations since 2013 suggest that a likely contributing factor for contamination of leafy greens has been the proximity of cattle. Cattle have been repeatedly demonstrated to be a persistent source of pathogenic E. coli, including E. coli O157:H7,” FDA stated in an online statement.
FDA then recommends that growers of leafy greens in the California Central Coast Growing Region consider this reoccurring E. coli strain a reasonably foreseeable hazard, and specifically of concern in the South Monterey County area of the Salinas Valley.
“It is important to note that farms covered by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule are required to implement science and risk-based preventive measures in the rule, which includes practices that prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable hazards into or onto produce,” they added.
FDA has also announced other initiatives including the Leafy Greens Action Plan, which consolidates future strategies in safeguarding American leafy greens, as well as the California Longitudinal Study, an efficacy protocol for the development and registration of antimicrobial treatments for pre-harvest agricultural water and took critical steps to advance traceability of leafy greens.
“Although the FDA is keenly focused on taking steps to help mitigate recurring leafy green contamination events, we alone cannot fix this issue. Industry leadership and collaboration among growers, processors, retailers, state partners and the broader agricultural community is critical to reducing foodborne illnesses,” FDA explained.
They added, “At the FDA, the safety of leafy greens remains a top priority, and we are committed to working with all stakeholders to address this significant public health issue and further protect consumers.”
Teddy Cambosa is a graduating BS Biology student and a former campus journalist at Batangas State University. He is also currently writing for MARKETECH APAC, a small APAC-focused marketing news site.
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