Is Canada breaking the fall tradition of a romaine E. coli outbreak?  Each year since 2017, Canada has been struck by an autumnal E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, CA. Those outbreaks occurred in tandem with E. coli outbreaks in the U.S. But this year, as the U. S. simultaneously battles three E. coli outbreaks that are likely caused by romaine lettuce that have resulted in  56 illnesses, 23 hospitalizations and one death,  Canada has yet to report a single E. coli illness linked to California-grown romaine.

For both countries, the last few years has been a perpetual cycle of illnesses linked to contaminated lettuce, followed by dead-end investigations and follow-up reports containing industry observations and recommendations. But, this year, Canada tried something new.  On October 2, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced new temporary import conditions on romaine lettuce originating from the Salinas Valley.

These measures mandated a set of strict import rules on all romaine lettuce shipments originating from Salinas arriving in Canada from October 7, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The new rules include required proof of origin documentation and product testing. Canadian health officials said recently that “since mid-October 2020, the vast majority of shipments presented to the CFIA have been accompanied by the appropriate requirements, such as a certificate of analysis for E. coli O157.”

E. coli lawyer - Nine outbreaks spreadsheet graphic

The chart above does not include a third ongoing E. coli outbreak with an unknown source that is likely linked to romaine lettuce.

Is it possible that mandated product testing and required documentation that traces a clear line to the field where the product was grown is keeping contaminated lettuce off of store shelves in Canada and preventing illness?

Here in the U.S., where no such rules have been mandated, we have three ongoing multistate E. coli outbreaks where California romaine is a suspected source. The E. coli strains for two of these outbreaks were the source of previous romaine outbreaks.

If you developed an E. coli infection from contaminated romaine lettuce you purchased from a grocery store or from a restaurant and would like a free consultation with an experienced E. coli lawyer, please contact the Pritzker Hageman E. coli Legal Team. We have represented clients in every major E. coli outbreak in the U.S.  You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.


UPATED November 21, 2020- This post was updated to include information about the romaine imports Canada has received from California.