Latest — 28 November 2018 — by Courtney Menzies
Watch out for romaine and Jennie-O!

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 26, 2018– The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) issued two press releases on Friday, November 23, warning Belizeans against consuming romaine lettuce as well as Jennie-O raw ground turkey products.

The alert against the romaine lettuce came from the US as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) linked the vegetable with an outbreak in that country of E. coli bacteria. So far, 32 persons in 11 U.S. states have been infected with the outbreak of the strain of E.coli, and 13 of those persons had to be hospitalized.

Eighteen persons in Ontario and Quebec, in Canada, have also been affected by the outbreak.

Although there have been no reported deaths, one of the persons hospitalized in the US has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially life-threatening form of kidney failure, according to fox6new.com.

BAHA and the Ministry of Health in Belize are therefore advising all Belizean households, retailers, and restaurants not to consume, serve or sell any romaine lettuce that is imported from the US or Canada until more information becomes available.

BAHA’s release continues to say, “This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.”

BAHA has also decided to implement a temporary ban on the importation of romaine lettuce, effective immediately.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday as well that the outbreak is likely California-based. Most of the romaine being harvested right now is apparently from California, although there are some that are imported from Mexico.

There is also a temporary ban being placed on Jennie-O products containing turkey meat, since there is a possible outbreak of salmonella that is associated with Jennie-O raw ground turkey products. The CDC is also currently investigating this case.

According to BAHA’s press release, the “consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause Salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated food. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.”

BAHA and MoH are also advising all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, and to only consume poultry meats that have been cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Both press releases end, saying, “The Belize Agricultural Health Authority and the Ministry of Health commit to continued collaborative efforts with all agencies and stakeholders and to provide necessary and timely updates on the progress of this situation as investigations continue.”

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