According to the FDA, some Fresh Express brand sunflower crisp salad kits have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli. (Courtesy of the FDA)
CASPER, Wyo. – The disease control center says the E. coli outbreak associated with some Fresh Express-branded Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits appears to be over.
“Contaminated fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped salad sets that made people sick from this outbreak are likely to no longer be available on the market,” said a January 15, 2019 update from the Food and Drug Administration.
The first warning came in mid-December 2020.
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Even though the outbreak is over, officials say the investigation will continue.
“The FDA will continue to investigate potential sources and factors that led to the outbreak to inform about future prevention efforts,” said the FDA. “This outbreak, an outbreak in the US state of Washington that may be associated with leafy greens, and a larger outbreak in several states related to romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region, with cases in the US and Canada, were shared all a common romaine lettuce supplier with ranches in Salinas, CA. Although this grower has been classified as a common supplier for all three outbreaks based on available supply chain information, this breed’s romaine lettuce does not explain all the diseases that have occurred in the three outbreaks. “
FDA, CDC, and California partners have reportedly investigated ranches used by the farmer to determine the cause of the contamination. When the investigators arrived on the ranches, there was no romaine lettuce in the ground and the fields were already plowed because the growing season was over.
The investigators stated that they had collected water, soil and compost samples and returned them to the laboratory for analysis. So far the sample results for the three E. coli outbreak strains have been negative.
The FDA has found a strain of E. coli that is not associated with disease in any soil sample. This E. coli strain has been found to pose a low risk to humans.
“As part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to understand and prevent leaf vegetable-related diseases, the FDA will undertake a root cause investigation,” the government said. “The investigation will be conducted throughout this year’s season for growing, growing and harvesting romaine lettuce. The results will be published after the investigation and analysis is complete. “