The Michigan Department of Community Health has established that 26 cases of E. coli in that state have been linked to bagged, industrial-sized packages of iceberg lettuce sold to wholesalers, restaurants, and institutional accounts (prisons and schools, for example), according to ThePacker.com.
In Michigan, cases included 7 Michigan State University students, five county jail inmates and three University of Michigan students.
In Illinois, six people have been diagnosed with the same strain of E. coli.
Due to the size and scope of the outbreak, the CDC has not gotten involved and is leaving the situation to state health agencies.
Aunt Mid's Produce Co is one of the bagged lettuce producers that has been identified as a possible source in the case. Aunt Mid's says on its website that it has suspended processing and sales of its iceberg lettuce line until testing is complete.
This is the latest food-borne illness outbreak that reminds us we need better oversight and regulation of our food system.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called out the FDA for failing to ensure the safety of the nation's food supply, and has suggested the FDA's authority must be expanded, according to a Time.com article.
The GAO says the FDA's strategy needs an update. Priorities were last set eight years ago, according to Time, and new research should be gathered. The agency is understaffed and underfunded.
Time says this recommendation was first put forth by Senators Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer after the E. coli outbreak in 2006 linked to bagged spinach.
The article says that the FDA devotes only 3 percent of its food safety spending each year to fresh produce, and examines less than one percent of produce imported to the US.
That leaves a lot of room for improvement.
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