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article imageE. coli could be linked to leafy greens in Canada says PHAC

By Karen Graham     Apr 16, 2015 in Food
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is investigating a mysterious outbreak of E. coli infections across Canada. So far, 12 cases have popped up, and all seem to be related to the consumption of leafy green vegetables.
At this time, the PHAC is working with the health departments of the affected provinces in investigating the mysterious cluster of illnesses. According to the PHAC, nine cases were reported in Alberta while single cases popped up in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Newfoundland between March 13 and March 31.
Based on the findings of the investigation so far, the culprit, Escherichia coli O157:H7, commonly known as E. coli, gave the same genetic fingerprint in all 12 cases, leading investigators to surmise the culprit may be leafy greens.
This, of course, does not narrow the type of leafy greens because this would include all varieties of lettuces and other leafy vegetables, such as kale, collards, spinach, arugula, or chard.
The PHAC is saying Canadians are at low risk from an E. coli infection, but proper precautions need to be taken to reduce any risk. People are reminded to use recommended safe food handling practices. These include the following:
1. Wash all fresh fruit and vegetables before eating them. Wash counters, cutting boards and particularly your hands, frequently with warm soap and water when handling raw food items.
2. Most bacteria will grow in the danger zone between 4 °C and 60 °C (40 °F to 140 °F). Keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot. Don't leave leftovers sitting on the counter to cool.
For other food safety tips, you can go to: Public Health Agency of Canada.
E. coli is commonly found living naturally in the intestines of cattle, poultry and other animals. While most varieties of E. coli are usually harmless to humans, some varieties can make us sick. The usual course of the illness with most people includes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
But pregnant women, young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk from serious consequences of an E. coli infection.
More about E coli, leafy green vegetables, 12 cases, genetic fingerprints, no specific product identified
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