FDA released its environmental assessment of factors potentially contributing to the contamination of romaine lettuce implicated in a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 on, November 1, 2018.
PMA commends FDA and CDC for providing the leafy greens industry and its trade associations with this investigative environmental assessment. Several new data-based insights to potential risk factors in leaf greens production, in this region and more broadly, give us a foundation to immediately evaluate and assess our monitoring tools and interventions. This report is consistent with ongoing industry commitments to assess the root cause of this outbreak, and ultimately to strengthen our food safety systems and to work with FDA to develop guidance to comply with FSMA.
We appreciate the analysis of the complex ground and surface water risk factors, and look forward to working with state agencies, university specialists, and the industry to follow up on the important directional analysis provided.
Center for Produce Safety has been closely working with the industry to assess our diverse regional agricultural water research needs, including addressing issues around proximity to CAFOs and Best Practices in sampling and detection. CPS will be calling for research proposals soon to find water quality management solutions, which support immediate and near-term needs to move the industry forward.
PMA plans to request more detailed information from FDA on category specifics of the multiple routes of romaine forward handling from the point of harvest.The report only identifies shipper intermediaries as a cohesive category. This will be critical to inform our actions beyond the risk associated with a singular contaminated water source, and will provide a good first step forward from the assessment.