An analysis conducted by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) demonstrates how USDA data on daily shipments of romaine lettuce information may allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rule out an entire production region as the source of contamination. These data, reported by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service with a 1- or 2-day lag, provide essentially real-time information on produce shipped out to retailers. Data on daily shipments of romaine can be used to determine production regions free from contamination during a foodborne illness outbreak. Researchers at USDA ERS studied the timelines of three outbreaks and their investigations; along with romaine lettuce production and shipment data in the U.S. reveals that romaine from Yuma was not the source of the fall 2018 outbreak as no romaine was shipped from Yuma until three weeks after the date of first illness on October 7. The USDA shipment data can help FDA in outbreak investigations regarding romaine, the most recent of which occurred in the fall of 2019, and in directing consumers how to avoid illness from them. @ https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2020/february/lettuce-help-usda-data-on-shipments-of-romaine-lettuce-can-inform-foodborne-illness-outbreak-investigations-and-public-health-advisories/
USDA data on shipments of romaine lettuce can inform foodborne illness outbreak investigations
A study by ERS researchers demonstrates how USDA data on daily shipments of romaine lettuce can be used to determine which producing regions within the United States are free from contamination during a foodborne illness outbreak. The study finds that among the 29 outbreaks of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 associated with romaine lettuce between 1998 and 2018, illnesses peaked in April and October, which corresponds with the tail end of the harvest season in the two main romaine growing regions.