CASPER, Wyo. — The Center for Disease Control is saying that the outbreak of E. coli, linked to some Fresh Express brand Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad kits appears to be over.
“Contaminated Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped salad kits that made people sick in this outbreak are likely no longer available on the market,” a Food and Drug Administration update said on January 15, 2019.
The initial warning was made during mid-December of 2020.
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Despite the outbreak being over, officials say that the investigation continues.
“FDA will continue its investigation into the potential sources and contributing factors that led to the outbreak in order to inform future prevention efforts,” the FDA said. “This outbreak, a Washington state outbreak potentially linked to leafy greens, and a larger multi-state outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Salinas, CA growing region with cases in the U.S. and Canada, all shared a common romaine lettuce supplier with ranches in Salinas, CA. Although this grower was determined to be a common supplier for all three outbreaks based on available supply chain information, the romaine lettuce from this grower does not explain all the illnesses seen in the three outbreaks.”
FDA, CDC, and California partners are said to have investigated ranches used by the common grower in an attempt to identify the source of the contamination. When investigators arrived on the ranches there was no romaine lettuce in the ground and the fields had been plowed, as the growing season had already ended.
Investigators say they collected water, soil, and compost samples and took them back to the lab for analysis. So far, sample results have come back negative for the three outbreak strains of E. coli.
The FDA did find a strain of E. coli that is unrelated to any illnesses in a soil sample. This strain of E. coli was determined to be of low risk to people.
“As part of FDA’s ongoing efforts to understand and prevent foodborne illnesses linked to leafy greens, the FDA will conduct a root cause investigation,” the administration said. “The investigation will be conducted throughout this year’s romaine lettuce planting, growing, and harvesting season. Results will be shared publicly when the investigation and analysis are concluded.”