You may have heard that the Public Health Agency of Canada is in the midst of investigating an E. coli contamination which has had 30 cases reported across Eastern Canada, affecting Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and now Ontario. The agency also confirmed at least one death linked to this contamination which is said to be found on Romaine Lettuce. You can read more information about it here.
While there is still no confirmation as to where the contamination comes from and so there are no specific brands to avoid or take extra precautions with. However the agency is giving advice to treat all romaine lettuce with extra care.
So what does that mean for you? Well from the agency itself there are a few simple tips which can be followed:
The following food safety tips for lettuce will help you reduce your risk of getting an E. coli infection.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling lettuce.
- Unwashed lettuce, including whole heads of lettuce sold in sealed bags, should be handled and washed using these steps:
- Discard outer leaves of fresh lettuce.
- Wash unpackaged lettuce under fresh, cool running water. There is no need to use anything other than water to wash lettuce. Washing it gently with water is as effective as using produce cleansers.
- Keep rinsing your lettuce until all of the dirt has been washed away.
- Don’t soak lettuce in a sink full of water. It can become contaminated by bacteria in the sink.
- Store lettuce in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Discard when leaves become wilted or brown.
- Use warm water and soap to thoroughly wash all utensils, countertops and cutting boards before and after handling lettuce to avoid cross-contamination.
- Ready-to-eat lettuce products sold in sealed packages and labelled as washed, pre-washed or triple washed do not need to be washed again. These products should also be refrigerated and used before the expiration date.
If you want to know more about the contamination or what you should do or to get any updates you can see the Public Health Notice here.