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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advise people not to eat romaine lettuce if they do not know where it was grown.
It seems the eruption of E. coli bacteria, which began in March to be associated with romaine lettuce in Arizona, is over, but investigators are still not entirely sure of what is one of the worst outbreaks of its kind in recent years Years ago. More than 120 people have been reported ill in more than two dozen states and at least one person has died.
Here and Now Jeremy Hobson speaks with Bill Marler ( @bmarler ), a Seattle-based food safety lawyer. Marler represents 58 victims who have fallen ill after consuming Romaine.
"This is a fairly significant outbreak, it's the biggest we've had since 2006, and 14 people have developed the so-called hemolytic uremic syndrome of acute kidney failure," he says. "So one person died of hemolytic uremic syndrome, but several other people have [had to] dialysis, plasmapheresis transplants."
Highlights of the Interview
How outbreaks of food – borne diseases are persecuted
"What Noticing Diseases and the CDC [and the Food and Drug Administration] begins to figure out what these people ate and where that salad came from They made their way back to Yuma in Arizona Big breaches in this case were that there were eight prisoners in Nome, Alaska whose common denominator was that they were together in a jail, and they all ate romaine lettuce, and they were able to track Yuma exactly on a particular farm, because it was it came as a whole-head flavorin in a bag. "
Among the Weaknesses of the Food Safety Modernization Act to Prevent Outbreaks
"I think one of the weak points of the law is that traceability is expected to be a bit faster, and that is probably the main problem here It is simply not there with the FDA and the state health authorities to be able to pinpoint where the outbreak occurred. The technology does exist, but we really need to look at the legal requirements again – that the producers have a much stronger ability to know which product will be used when – so there is no ambiguity and we can do much to cause the outbreak more quickly.
Whether Restaurants Should Serve Romaine Lettuce During This Outbreak
"There was some confusion about where the Roman came from the beginning. And so I think that grocery stores and restaurants all over the United States, out of an overabundance of caution, put on the product. I think when it became clear that it was a Yuma, Arizona, Roma problem, restaurants and grocery stores started putting this product back on their shelves and returning their customers. But you know, during an outbreak, it's a good idea to watch what happens and pull the products off the shelf. The CDC has a great saying; it is: "In case of doubt, throw it out."
He represents his hopes for the victims in trials
"Most of them would like to have their health back, but that will not happen, you know, the most important thing I have to do "It is, especially for some of the children who suffered from acute kidney failure – they will have long-term problems – my job is to make sure they have the financial means
" And I have a very strong interest in getting them to a specific one Being able to trace the source back so that industry and government can help figure out why that happened. If it's Water, We Need to Know When it comes to an airborne E. coli outbreak, we need to know that and start thinking about where cattle production is related to green-green production. But I think the goal here is to get to the bottom of it and make sure it does not happen again.
This segment was broadcast on May 7, 2018 in WBURs Here & Now.