Three more Canadian cases are confirmed in the current E. coli outbreak related to Roma lettuce, the Canadian Public Health Agency said on Friday.
This brings the total number of people who got sick in this country to 22, including four cases in Ontario, 17 in Quebec and one in New Brunswick.
The agency said there was no evidence that other parts of Canada were affected.
The epidemic also affected more than 30 people in the United States
Roma lettuce infected with E. coli O157 may have come from California, the head of the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday.
This conclusion is "based on growth and harvesting patterns," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
"The goal now is to withdraw the product that is at risk of pollution from the market and then restore the market," he said.
However, in the Food Inspection Agency's office, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said that although it had included the FDA information in the investigation, it still could not confirm whether the Roma lettuce that made the Canadian patients had been grown in California.
UPDATE UPDATE: The romaine involved in the current epidemic is likely from California based on growing and harvesting. The goal now is to pull the product at risk of pollution from the market and then restore the market …
And it seemed;@SGottliebFDA
Gottlieb said the FDA wanted to "help innocent producers to get back into production," noting that Roma lettuce would soon be harvested from other growing areas in the US, including Florida and Arizona.
The agency also wants to make a more specific labeling of the "new standard" product to help trace food back to the source, he said. FDA "works with manufacturers and distributors to label products for the location and harvest date and possibly other ways to inform consumers."
Labeling proved to be a challenge in investigating food contamination, Matthew Wise, deputy head of the blast response unit at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, told CBC Friday.
"One of the things we do not see on the packaging is the place where a green product with leafy vegetables is grown," said Withers. "Many times these bags are listed with … the corporate headquarters of the company or something.
He said it made it "almost impossible" for someone looking at a napkin to know if, for example, she was raised in Arizona, California, Florida or Texas.