Seventy-nine people in the U.S. and Canada have been sickened in the recent E. coli outbreak tied to romaine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 52 cases in the U.S., and the Public Health Agency of Canada reports 27 cases.

Illness onset dates range from early October to mid-November, according to the latest updates from the CDC and PHAC.

On the U.S. side, the Food and Drug Administration continues to conduct its traceback investigation to determine the specific source of the outbreak.

While the FDA has developed a better understanding of the relevant supply chains, it still does not known where the contaminated product originated.

“Traceback information from four restaurants in three different states so far has implicated 10 different distributors, 12 different growers and 11 different farms as potential sources of the contaminated lettuce,” the FDA wrote in its update Dec. 6. “The information indicates that the outbreak cannot be explained by a single farm, grower, harvester or distributor.”

FDA, CDC and state government personnel began on-site investigations of farms and facilities only days after the outbreak was announced, but answers have been elusive.

“The investigation teams have been collecting romaine lettuce, soil, water, and scat samples,” the FDA wrote. “To date, E. coli O157:H7 has not been found in any of the lettuce, soil or scat samples. Results of water testing being conducted by CDC are pending.”

The FDA’s advice to consumers remains the same: Check the label of romaine packages for growing region information, and if the product was not grown in the California Central Coast area, it is not under any food safety advisory.


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