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Food Safety Focus (162nd Issue, January 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

Romaine Lettuce from California Has Been Recalled Again for E. coli Contamination

Recently, the Centre for Food Safety has suspended romaine lettuce produced in Salinas, California from import and for sale within Hong Kong as it was linked to multistate outbreaks of E. coli O157 infection in the United States. The public is urged not to consume the affected products including prepackaged romaine lettuce and salad mixes. There was also another incident involving romaine lettuce which was contaminated by E. coli O157 in 2018 in the United States.

From a global perspective, leafy green vegetables present a food safety concern, mainly because they are grown and exported in large volume and are found recurrently associated with multiple outbreaks with high numbers of illnesses. When consuming raw vegetables, there is no heat treatment to inactivate harmful microorganisms.

Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are more susceptible to food poisoning. The trade is encouraged to provide consumer advice on raw or undercooked dishes on the menu.