Posts Tagged “E.coli outbreaks”

Lettuce Takes Big Hit Due to E. coli Outbreaks, Report Says

By |

Two E. coli outbreak investigations linked to romaine lettuce in 2018 took its toll in overall lettuce per capita availability. One of those probes led to a six-day hiatus of all romaine sales helping lead to a plunge of 20 percent, according to a new report.

Dragged sharply by lower lettuce availability, the latest per capita numbers on fresh vegetables reveal a reduction of 8 percent in 2018 compared with 2017.

Not counting potatoes and melons, the USDA reported 2018 fresh per capita vegetable availability was 144.81 pounds, down from 157.45 pounds a year ago.

The biggest fresh vegetable per capita declines from 2017-18, by percentage, were:

  • Squash: 4.43 pounds, down 22 percent.
  • Head lettuce: 12.33 pounds, down 19 percent;
  • Leaf lettuce: 12.29 pounds, down 19 percent;
  • Onions: 20.39 pounds, down 19 percent; and 
  • Broccoli: 5.93 pounds, down 17 percent.

With the decline in availability — what growers have shipped — and consumer reluctance to purchase romaine the wake of the E. coli outbreaks, romaine sales were down 18 percent by value and 17 percent by volume in 2018, according to IRI/Fresh Look Marketing, 

Compared with 2017, the USDA said the top 5 gains in per capita availability for 2018, by percentage, were:

  • Carrots: 8.53 pounds, up 16 percent;
  • Asparagus: 1.76 pounds, up 9 percent;
  • Snap beans: 1.68 pounds, up 8 percent;
  • Cucumbers: 7.99 pounds, up 8 percent; and 
  • Celery: 4.98 pounds, up 5 percent.

The change in per capita consumption over the last decade shows winners and losers in a bigger context. Total fresh vegetable per capita availability in 2018 of 144.81 pounds is 1 percent higher than 2008.

Compared with 2008, the fresh vegetables with the biggest gains in per capita availability in 2018, by percentage, compared to 2008, were:

  • Southern greens: 2.89 pounds (2018), up 64 percent;
  • Cauliflower: 2.44 pounds (2018), up 55 percent;
  • Asparagus: 1.76 pounds (2018), up 48 percent;
  • Cucumber: 7.99 pounds (2018), up 25 percent; and 
  • Bell peppers: 11.16 pounds (2018), up 18 percent.

Biggest reductions in per capita availability over 10 years, from 2008 to 2018, according to the USDA, were:

  • Head lettuce: 12.33 pounds, down 27 percent;
  • Sweet corn: 6.75 pounds, down 26 percent;
  • Cabbage: 5.71 pounds, down 29 percent;
  • Celery: 4.98 pounds, down 20 percent; and 
  • Snap/green beans: 1.68 pounds, down 15 percent.

Read more »

Study Looks at Risks of E.coli in Bagged Salads

By |

IMG_6626There have been recent E. coili outbreaks associated with leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach and researchers in Tennessee, along with scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released  a study published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease about the risk of E. coli O157:H7 in bagged salads.  An estimated 63,000 STEC O157 infections occur every year in the United States.

A  look at an outbreak of STEC O157 that was associated with bagged salads in institutional settings has been taken by researchers.  The outbreak was in schools, and the case-control study was made up of controls matched by school and grade.

Seventeen patients from three states were identified. The median age of a cases was 23 years.  76 percent of the cases were female.  Six people were hospitalized and two died in this particular outbreak. The illness onset dates ranged from April 29 to May 12, 2012.

The analytical epidemiology analysis identified a single significant food service exposure: lettuce provided by a school cafeteria. The bagged salad was traced back to a single facility.  Growing areas were scheduled for more inspection during the upcoming growing season to see if a source of the contamination, whether runoff from animals farms, problems in harvest or shipping, or some other source could be found.

Read more »