Import and sale of romaine lettuce produced in Arizona, US suspended

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (April 23) that the import into and sale in Hong Kong of romaine lettuce produced in the State of Arizona, the United States (US), has been suspended with immediate effect, as the product might have been contaminated with Escherichia coli (E coli) O157:H7. The CFS urged the trade to stop using and selling the product concerned immediately should they possess it.

A spokesman for the CFS said, "The Centre, through its Food Incident Surveillance System, noted a notice from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the investigation of an outbreak of E coli infections that was likely linked to the consumption of romaine lettuce produced in the State of Arizona, which was suspected to be contaminated with E coli O157:H7. For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately suspended the import into and sale within Hong Kong of romaine lettuce produced in the area concerned.

"The CFS has also enhanced surveillance of romaine lettuce produced in the US at import and retail levels. The trade should stop using or selling it if they possess the product concerned," the spokesman said.

People will contract E. coli causing gastro-intestinal disease through consumption of contaminated water or undercooked and contaminated foods. Intestinal bleeding and serious complications such as hemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) may also develop in some people. Moreover, due to poor personal hygiene, person-to-person transmission of this pathogen is possible through the oral-faecal route. E. coli cannot survive under high temperature and can be killed by thorough cooking.

The CFS has informed the US authorities concerned of the import suspension and alerted the trade. It will continue to closely monitor the incident and take appropriate follow-up action. Investigation is underway.
Ends/Monday, April 23, 2018