Food Safety And E. Coli Outbreak In The United States

The United States is heavily programmed to ensure the safety of its citizens in all aspects. The FDA is one part of our safeness that ensures what we use and consume will be of no harm. Most people do not realize that the daily products or food they consume have been tested and approved by the FDA. There are a couple different categories that the FDA is accountable for. Food is a very immense portion of the FDA’s responsibility in which they confirm the food labeling has precise material, moreover, poultry, meat, overseas bottled water, dietary supplements, infant formulas and food additives are not included within the FDA procedures. Food additives and ingredients that are typically acknowledged as safe (GRAS) are the core categories of ingredients deliberately added to conventional food. The evaluation of such components from the perception of their safety is examined by Food and Drug Administration. There are well more than 3,000 state, local and tribal organizations that have top responsibility to control the retail food and foodservice productions in America. FDA tries to encourage the application of science based food safety values in retail and foodservice backgrounds to decrease the occurrence of foodborne illness or any diseases relating to food. The FDA regulates industries by offering a model Food Code, a scientifically based guidance, training, technical support, and program evaluation. While this is a mission of the FDA, there have still been instances where food related illnesses have occurred. Americans have been getting ill and dying in some cases due to the E. Coli disease linked to romaine lettuce. There have been many outbreaks within California and some other states. This is an issue concerning Americans, and while the FDA has tackled this issue before, it is still occurring and something needs to be done and or changed to ensure better safety measures for our Country regarding this matter.

E. Coli has been around for a while, it is commonly known as a bacteria found in human and animal intestines, and majority of the time causes no harm. However, there are instances where it can cause dreadful food poisoning. Now that most lettuce are prewashed and bagged up we risk and increase the chance with food poisoning. The bacteria also have a chance to grow inside the bag, and especially when living amongst the leafy greens in a moist environment to distribute. According to Raouf, Beauchat, and Ammar (2006), the result of customized packages, temperature, and the time of survival and development of E. Coli emerged within romaine lettuce. The decrease in PH of vegetables were associated with early growths in populations of E. Coli and instinctively occurring microfloras (Raouf et al., 2006). These instances include the outbreak connected with romaine lettuce within our nation. While most people may feel fine after consuming romaine lettuce, others will notice certain symptoms that will indicate a severe issue. Symptoms of E. Coli may include outbreaks of diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and hemolytic-uremic syndrome in people, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, loss of appetite and substantial economic loss in cultivation. Usually people get sick from Shiga-toxin which produces E. coli anywhere from two to eight days after consuming the germ. Some people have gotten kidney failures called hemolytic uremic syndrome, and E. coli infection is analyzed and tested from a stool sample. Antibiotics must be avoided within people who are perceived to have the infection until it is confirmed through testing that it is not the E. coli infection. Findings have shown that antibiotics may increase the possibility of someone who has E. coli infection getting HUS. Majority of people entirely improve from the symptoms of the infection, but some progress life-threatening diseases of the kidneys. As romaine lettuce may currently be the issue that is linked to E. coli, there are many other ways it can be transmitted to humans. Lindeberg et al. (2017) conducted a study for about two months with cooked rice and flies, in which the study included a set of exposed and non exposed rice. After a couple months the exposed rice was analyzed and E. coli was traced (Lindeberg et al. (2017). The exposed rice was at a greater risk due to the exposure of flies compared to the rice with no exposure of flies (Lindeberg et al. 2017). This study is one example of many cases where E. coli can be traced back to insects or animals through our food. It is vital to stay aware of our surroundings and be cautious with the food we consume.

It is important to trust the food we buy or eat within our nation. There should be no fear of buying any type of food and people should not have to think twice if a type of food is not at a good state to purchase or eat. The outbreak of romaine lettuce has got many individuals to think about the rest of the food they buy at their local grocery stores, or eat at restaurants. While the FDA is a government agency to help ensure the safeness for the nation, there are many aspects within the agency that help safeguard the population. The food code is a major system the FDA uses regularly for retail food businesses. The food code contains principles for cooking times and temperatures, refrigeration temperatures, and storage necessity for several types of foods. This code ranges from all types of regulations such as washing hands before prepping food, splitting foods to avoid cross contamination, cooking under appropriate temperatures, and refrigerating immediately for all organizations to hear by. Training is an essential aspect within the FDA. There are retail food specialists in five different regions within the United States, and each specialist is reliable for a number of states in that territory. Moreover, restaurants are a very common place people visit often, and in order to ensure the safeness of the restaurant there are safety inspections that are held. If there is a kitchen involved, then that establishment may need to go through an inspection in order to guarantee it is a safe environment for food. In addition, research is another key component within that job field. Research is always needed in order to keep up with food safety concerns, and outbreaks occurring of any kind that can become harmful within the food industry. It is a prime goal the for the FDA to confirm safety by constructing, construing, and endorsing the FDA food code standards, and this also includes guaranteeing food is safe within national special events and disaster regions.

The FDA also specializes in monitoring the safeness in food for animals. The FDA must approve all food additives before their use and following the approval (Food Additive Petitions, 2018). Food additives are ingredients added to food to improve its taste or presence or to preserve it (Food Additive Petitions, 2018). If a company or someone from an establishment would like to appeal for approval on an animal food additive, they would have to go through an approval process by the FDA. The food additive must be validated that it is safe for the use in animal food, and a food additive petition (FAP) must be proposed. The food additive petition must include well specified and valid information backing up why and how the food additive is safe for animals. There are eight parts of the food additive petition that must be included (Food Additive Petitions, 2018). The development process and controls must be specified, as well as the intentional use and labeling such as restraints, warnings, guidelines (Food Additive Petitions, 2018). Statistics and research must be provided within the effects of the additives, and the critical approaches (Food Additive Petitions, 2018). In addition, a safety evaluation is conducted along with an environmental evaluation (Food Additive Petitions, 2018). The FDA is very strict in what they accept as safe for animals just as much as humans. The standards within the FDA abide to animals within the same grounds as the rest of us.

It can sound very bizarre to get an illness from something as simple as contaminated food such as lettuce, however the outcome can be very dreadful. The FDA along with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (also known as CDC) are conducting an on going investigation and the link to romaine lettuce. There have been a number of people impacted by this outbreak. It has been reported that 43 people became ill within 12 states, and an extra 22 people became ill containing E. coli, and 13 people were hospitalized. In order to avoid any further cases of E. coli, the FDA and CDC have announced not to consume any type of romaine lettuce and to dispose of any current romaine lettuce already bought or stored. The FDA also reached out to restaurants and grocery stores to destroy any romaine lettuce that currently exists for any potential link to E. coli. As the investigation continues, it was evident the outbreak of E. coli with romaine lettuce was traced back to areas within California that cultivate romaine lettuce between the summer in which the outbreak seems to be correlated with the end of the season romaine lettuce reaped in those parts. The investigation is an important aspect in which the FDA can trace and become one step closer to identifying how and why this outbreak started and prevent it from happening again. In order for the FDA to figure out how this outbreak originated, they must resume tracing back romaine lettuce in places that impacted shoppers consumed or disbursed before they became sick. Although, the FDA may never know or trace back which romaine lettuce were contaminated due to the different types of lettuce that were mixed into bags. The FDA still ensures to make it a mission to get to the bottom of this and gain the safeness for people. There are changes that can be made to gain a better system to improve the health of those consuming food within our Nation.

The FDA made an important decision to urge everyone to stop consuming and buying any supply of romaine lettuce in America in order to remove possibly contaminated romaine lettuce. This outbreak was very recent within the months of October and November of 2018, and there was a prior outbreak of this infection earlier this year. Acknowledging the origin of produce will help make a difference in permitting customers to prevent contaminated produces. The romaine lettuce production is required to provide unmistakable and concise evidence to shoppers regarding where the romaine lettuce was developed and when it was harvested. Therefore, based on all of the outbreaks and investigations, The FDA required that all new incoming romaine lettuce must be identified with a harvest location and date. FDA makes it clear that if this information is not included or labeled on a romaine lettuce then it should be avoided and not consumed. It is also important for shoppers, stores, and any food service facilities to identify where the romaine lettuce is from and ensure it is not affected. However, there are two types of romaine lettuce that is safe and does not need to be avoided. Any romaine lettuce that was reaped outside of the Central Coast areas of Northern and Central California as well as hydroponically and greenhouse grown romaine do not relate to the outbreaks and are safe to eat. The FDA does not require lettuces from these zones to be avoided as they have no trace of the E. Coli outbreak. The only way this type of outbreak will not be as likely to occur again is if everyone works together in acknowledging and understanding the issue as well as abiding to the preventions and safety measures that come along with it. 

16 December 2021
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