Mixed messages from Guelph during E. coli O157:H7 outbreak

There are now seven confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7, all University of Guelph students, and 43 probable cases, as part of a larger Ontario outbreak believed to involve romaine lettuce.

Cameron Clark, health protection program manager with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health said the outbreak served “as a reminder for anyone who ate at the campus from that date on, or has experienced symptoms of extreme diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting to contact public health.”

I thought it would be a reminder for food service to check their suppliers of lettuce and ask what is being done to ensure the microbial safety of fresh produce.

Clark also said it’s important to continually remind people to wash their hands to prevent human-to-human spread and to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables.

Does continual reminding work? Or is it nagging? Is washing the lettuce in a Pita Pit wrap — believed to be the Guelph source — an effective consumer strategy?