Health authorities pull romaine lettuce off shelves

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Romaine lettuce will be noticeably absent from supermarket shelves across Antigua and Barbuda as health authorities implement a risk management strategy in response to an E Coli outbreak in Canada and parts of the United States.
Acting Chief Health Inspector Sharon Martin told OBSERVER media yesterday that this is one of the measures that the Central Board of Health (CBH) will be taking in the absence of “anything official” from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“A part of our strategy is to go into supermarkets that would normally sell romaine lettuce and remove them from the shelves or check their refrigeration units and if they have any in stock, we will confiscate them and take them to the Cook’s Sanitary Landfill for destruction and final disposal to ensure that members of the general public do not come into contact with them,” Martin explained.
She also revealed that the Plant Protection Unit, which has the mandate to monitor imports and exports to the island, will also be doing its part to prevent more romaine lettuce from entering the country.
“We have spoken about it already that no licence should be issued to any importer until clearance is received,” the public health official said.
Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are bacteria found in the environment, food, and intestines of people and animals. E. coli are a large and diverse group of bacteria, although most strains of E. Coli are harmless, others can make you sick.
Earlier this week the United States CDC issued an advisory calling for all consumers to throw out any type of romaine lettuce even if some people did not get sick after eating it. The agency also told restaurants and retailers not to sell any more romaine lettuce until more is learned about the outbreak.
The advice includes all types of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contains romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix and Caesar salads.

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