E. coli O157:H7 cases in the Maritimes and Ontario - Questions and Answers
Who supplies lettuce to these fast food chains? What kind of lettuce of is affected?
The latest evidence in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s outbreak investigation indicates that the most probable cause of the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in the Maritimes and Ontario is shredded lettuce distributed by FreshPoint Inc. primarily to some KFC and KFC-Taco Bell restaurants.
Is this lettuce processed at the restaurant?
No. Lettuce is shredded and processed for restaurants by FreshPoint Inc. in Ontario.
Has the lettuce been recalled?
As a precaution, FreshPoint Inc. has voluntarily recalled product that was produced for KFC and KFC-Taco Bell restaurants. It is highly unlikely that any potentially affected product remains in restaurant inventories given the limited shelf life of lettuce.
Was affected lettuce also distributed to grocery stores?
There is no indication that this lettuce was sent to grocery stores. As part of the ongoing investigation, the CFIA continues to work with distributors and processors to verify that no product remains in restaurant inventories.
Is lettuce inspected at the border by the CFIA?
Lettuce entering Canada from California must be certified under the Leafy Green Marketing Arrangement, whereby a food safety control system for production and handling of leafy greens is audited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In addition, the CFIA has a microbiological sampling plan that includes the testing of lettuce at destination (importer, retailer) for the presence of pathogens, including E. coli.
What is the average shelf life of lettuce?
Depending on temperature and relative humidity, the average shelf life of lettuce ranges from 14-21 days.
In modified atmosphere packaging (for example - fresh cut lettuce in a bag) the shelf life is extended marginally. The perishability rate resumes once the package is opened by user.
What methods are used to clean lettuce to reduce E. coli risks?
Generally, lettuce is washed gently in 200 ppm chlorinated water.
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