30 sickened: Miramichi E. coli outbreak linked to Romaine lettuce

The Sponge-Bob-Colbert leafy greens cone of silence has been partially peeled back after investigators in New Brunswick (that’s in Canada) determined an outbreak of E. coli O157 in April was linked to Romaine lettuce.

CBC News reports the Department of Health released results of a case control study on Friday that examined 55 people, including 18 individuals who were sick and 37 people who were not sick.

Dr. Eilish Cleary, the chief medical officer of health, said all of those in the study who were sick with E. coli appear to have consumed romaine lettuce.

"The lettuce was used in salads, as an ingredient in wraps and hamburgers and as a garnish. These results indicate a strong likelihood that contaminated lettuce was served at the restaurant,” Cleary said in a statement.

The Public Health Agency of Canada helped the province’s health department on the control study. The experts focused on the food items eaten by those who ate at Jungle Jim’s in Miramichi between April 23 and 26, 2012.

The federal agency became aware that cases matching the E. coli strain involved in the Miramichi outbreak had also been identified in Quebec and California, according to the province’s statement.

Now that would be something to follow up on. So while the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement folks were wining and dining Canadian journalists last month (not so much journalists, more like hacks) , I wonder how many asked about the Romaine-related outbreaks? There was also the Schnucks salad bar outbreak that sickened 58 people in the U.S. Midwest last fall.

A table of leafy green related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/leafy-greens-related-outbreaks.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time