By: Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs and Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response
Fresh leafy greens are among the most widely consumed vegetables and an important part of an overall healthy diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is committed to working with the produce industry and government partners to help keep leafy greens safe for Americans.
While millions of servings of leafy greens are consumed safely every day, this produce commodity has been too often implicated in outbreaks of foodborne illness. These include recurring outbreaks of E. coli 0157:H7 infections tied to consumption of romaine lettuce, which is very popular in this country.
We believe one foodborne illness outbreak is one too many. The FDA is committed to doing more.
Today we are releasing the 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan, which spells out the actions the FDA plans to take this year in the areas of prevention, response and addressing knowledge gaps. STEC stands for Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, which can cause potentially life-threatening illnesses. The most common STEC, E. coli O157:H7, is most often associated with outbreaks.
Food safety is a shared responsibility that involves food producers, distributors, manufacturers, retailers and regulators. Weve previously called on the leafy green industry to do more, and meeting our own responsibility involves collaboration with state partners on education, training and inspections. This plan is designed to help foster a more urgent, collaborative and action-oriented approach.
In the area of prevention, we will be taking further steps to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule that established science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce. Areas covered by these standards include biological soil amendments; animal intrusion; hygiene; and equipment, tools and buildings. The major compliance dates for very small businesses arrived in January, and 2020 marks the second year of conducting routine Produce Safety Rule inspections for other covered farms, other than for sprouts operations, which had earlier compliance dates.
Our prevention-focused plans in the leafy greens sector include providing education and technical assistance to industry and other stakeholders, with greater emphasis on the potential impact of adjacent land uses and continued emphasis on the importance of agricultural water quality. We also hope to issue proposed revisions to FSMAs agricultural water requirements, for covered produce other than sprouts, in 2020. We extended the compliance dates for those provisions to address feedback about practical challenges in implementing the requirements.
In the area of response, we will soon be publishing an investigation report on three outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 infections tied to romaine lettuce and leafy greens between November and December 2019. Each was tied to the Salinas Valley in California. We will also be conducting follow-up surveillance of fields in that region during this falls growing/harvest season.
While we must act to help prevent and respond to STEC outbreaks with current knowledge, gaps remain in our understanding of how environmental pathogens, including STEC, can contaminate produce. Most leafy greens are grown outdoors, where they are exposed to soil, animals, and water, all of which can be a source of contamination. Developing new science to learn how pathogens survive and move through the environment can help us protect these foods that are mostly eaten without cooking or processing to eliminate microbial hazards. The FDA is already working with experts in state government, cooperative extension and academia to better understand the ecology of pathogens in the Yuma, Arizona, growing region. Discussions have been initiated to conduct the same research in other leafy greens growing regions.
The New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative aims to foster rapid traceback of contaminated foods to their source and enhance the analysis of data streams to inform prevention efforts.
As public health officials, we are concerned by these recurring outbreaks and we believe all involved with the production and sale of fresh leafy greens can do better. As people who have children of our own, we are heartbroken about the families whose lives have been forever changed by these illnesses.
We have an unwavering commitment to protecting the health of the American public. The 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan demonstrates how we will honor that commitment. We are laser-focused on improving our prevention, response and research efforts with a multi-faceted approach to help keep leafy greens safe for generations to come.
In January, Deputy Commissioner Yiannas visited the Yuma growing region in Arizona to see the food safety procedures in place on growing fields and in harvesting operations. See the photos on Flickr.
- Eid-ul-Fitr 2020: How to break your fast in a healthy way to avoid digestive troubles - Times of India - May 24th, 2020
- Pets are great, but think before adopting | News | ottumwacourier.com - Ottumwacourier - May 24th, 2020
- Inside the pilot program that Iowa State is using to bring back its athletes - Syracuse Journal-Democrat - May 24th, 2020
- Mum lost five stone in a year and became super fit after the dramatic birth of her baby - Berkshire Live - Berkshire Live - May 24th, 2020
- How to lose a stone and tone up during lockdown - The Times - May 24th, 2020
- Telehealth Visits Allow Patients to Connect to Care During COVID-19 - UC San Diego Health - May 24th, 2020
- What is FODMAP intolerance and how to relieve the symptoms - Insider - INSIDER - May 24th, 2020
- Ellie Goulding Reveals She Fasts for Up to 40 Hours at a Time: I Do It Very Safely - Us Weekly - May 19th, 2020
- Need a little lockdown weight loss? Eat MORE of these five foods and LESS of these blacklisted ones - T3 - May 19th, 2020
- How the Sixers Are Staying Fit and Eating Healthy at Home Right Now - phillymag.com - May 19th, 2020
- Reevaluating fish consumption advisories during the COVID-19 pandemic: Analysis - Environmental Health News - May 19th, 2020
- 6 Tips on How to Stay Active at Home - Freeport Journal-Standard - May 19th, 2020
- Ellie Goulding reveals she fasts up to 40 hours at a time - The Indian Express - May 19th, 2020
- How to get out of quarantine in good health and not overweight - The Times Hub - May 19th, 2020
- Ways to Fuel Your Immune System Not Just to Fight Off the Coronavirus - Reform Austin - May 18th, 2020
- One Twin Went Vegan. The Other Didn't. Here's What Happened to Their Bodies - Yahoo Lifestyle - May 18th, 2020
- Mix of straw and hay proves effective in stripping weight off ponies - study - Horsetalk - May 18th, 2020
- Mitchell Park's Fatty the parrot is missing - IOL - May 18th, 2020
- Born on this day - May 12: Jonah Lomu, All Blacks winger - IOL - May 18th, 2020
- From fighting off jaguars to eating frogs and SNAKES for 71 days the most shocking wilderness survival s - The Irish Sun - May 18th, 2020
- Your Cat Is Totally Allowed to Eat These 7 Human Foods We Asked 2 Vets to Be Sure - POPSUGAR - May 15th, 2020
- Ohio State experts offer tips for healthy transition to workplace as state reopens - Pike County News Watchman - May 15th, 2020
- As Boris Johnson vows to lose weight the 6 ways to do it safely - The Sun - May 15th, 2020
- 5 Genius Ways to Use Chia Seeds, According to Nutritionists - The Beet - May 15th, 2020
- The Pain of Perfection When You Live With a Chronic Illness - Yahoo News - May 15th, 2020
- Ohio State experts offer tips for healthy transition to post-COVID-19 workplace - The Ohio State University News - May 15th, 2020
- Eating to beat COVID-19, othersInterview - Guardian - May 15th, 2020
- Houston medical experts on how to be healthy during and after COVID-19 - CultureMap Houston - May 15th, 2020
- 6 Medicinal Mushrooms that Boost Immunity - One Green PlanetOne Green Planet - One Green Planet - May 15th, 2020
- For Your Fitness: When you want to be healthier - LaineyGossip - May 15th, 2020
- Staying safe, healthy amid pandemic during proposed reopenings: Dr Nina Radcliff - Press of Atlantic City - May 10th, 2020
- Is Brad Pitt Vegan? What You Need to Know - LIVEKINDLY - May 10th, 2020
- 9 Myths About Low-Carb Diets - Healthline - May 9th, 2020
- Can You Eat Fish Skin, and Is It Healthy? - Healthline - May 9th, 2020
- How to build muscle at home: 5 of the most effective muscle building tips for beginners (and pros too) - T3 - May 9th, 2020
- COVID-19: How effective has HR been so far? | theHRD - The HR Director Magazine - May 9th, 2020
- Intermittent fasting: How it can help you lose weight and even save money - CNET - May 9th, 2020
- Obesity does increase risk of death from Covid-19 but diets arent the answer, chief doc warns - The Sun - May 6th, 2020
- Your front line defence isn't masks and gloves: its health - Gulf Times - May 6th, 2020
- Fare Exchange: A crustless quiche, an easy side dish and a variation on banana bread - Chattanooga Times Free Press - May 6th, 2020
- Is It Safe to Dine Out? The Answer Is Extremely Partisan. - The Daily Beast - May 6th, 2020
- Need To Satisfy A Beauty Itch? We've Got 4 Safe Ways To Have Fun Right Now - mindbodygreen.com - May 6th, 2020
- Three Ways to Support a Healthy Food System During the COVID-19 Pandemic - EcoWatch - May 6th, 2020
- McDonald's in Harrow among the first fifteen restaurants to reopen - Harrow Times - May 6th, 2020
- Can You Eat Expired Yogurt? Heres What Food Safety Experts Have To Say - Women's Health - May 2nd, 2020
- Let the Sunshine In - The New York Times - May 2nd, 2020
- BARRATTS JOIN FORCES WITH WESSEX HEARTBEAT TO PROMOTE ISOLATION HEALTH TIPS - Island Echo - May 1st, 2020
- Is Corn Gluten-Free? Here's What to Know - LIVESTRONG.COM - May 1st, 2020
- McDonald's confirms when it will begin to re-open branches across the UK - NW Evening Mail - May 1st, 2020
- Millions Of Zimbabweans Are Already Struggling To Put Food On The Table UN Report - ZimEye - Zimbabwe News - May 1st, 2020
- Coping with Corona: Inclined to recline - Wilkes Barre Times-Leader - May 1st, 2020
- Irrfan Khan's Son, Babil Shares a Video of the Late Actor Eating Pani Puri and it's Bound to Make You Smile - LatestLY - May 1st, 2020
- Excerpt: Fix it With Food; Superfoods to become Superhealthy by Kavita Devgan - Hindustan Times - April 30th, 2020
- Weight Loss Transformation Erika Winning Run to Lose Weight - runnersworld.com - April 30th, 2020
- Diabetes and Ramadan: Frequently asked questions - Greater Kashmir - April 30th, 2020
- How to Manage Stress Migraines During the Coronavirus Outbreak - Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic - April 30th, 2020
- Six-Pack Abs: How Long Does It Take, Nutrition, and Exercise - Greatist - April 30th, 2020
- Opinion: Column: And So It Begins - Virginia Connection Newspapers - April 30th, 2020
- What to do if you find a baby bird on the ground - Deseret News - April 23rd, 2020
- Hunters, anglers, even Fish and Wildlife commissioners say restrictions on recreation should be lifted - The Spokesman-Review - April 23rd, 2020
- A real world version of Pokmon Go lets you track orangutans in the jungle - Massive Science - April 23rd, 2020
- Good Health Begins in Your Mouth - Live Trading News - April 23rd, 2020
- Four healthy eating strategies to work on while staying at home - The Globe and Mail - April 20th, 2020
- Opinion: There Is No 'Get Tough' With Coronavirus; We Need A New Slogan - NPR - April 20th, 2020
- The cost of deferred care: We cannot pause our healthcare system - Jordan Times - April 20th, 2020
- Inverness vet: Pets can provide comfort in these worrying times - Inverness Courier - April 20th, 2020
- Cuomo: New York Has Passed COVID-19 Peak, Warns of Second Wave - wpdh.com - April 20th, 2020
- Where does good news fit in the coverage of a pandemic? - Poynter - April 20th, 2020
- The importance of taking part in the census - Austin Daily Herald - Austin Herald - April 18th, 2020
- Your socially isolated brain craves interaction with other people just as much as it craves a meal when you are hungry - Massive Science - April 18th, 2020
- Cauliflower Rice: Calories and Nutrition Facts - Healthline - April 17th, 2020
- Eat REAL's #RainbowTacoChallenge Promotes Food Access, Joyful Cooking with Colorful Foods, and Social Connectivity - PRUnderground - April 17th, 2020
- Page A4 | E-Edition | thetandd.com - The Times and Democrat - April 17th, 2020
- If You Want To Lose 20 Pounds Or More, Strength Training Matters More Than You Think - Yahoo Lifestyle - April 16th, 2020
- What is reverse dieting and how to best recover from a restrictive diet - Insider - INSIDER - April 16th, 2020
- Cheetah #Cubdate 2: April 14 - Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute - April 16th, 2020
- Simple science communication helps ease fears and spread good information during the COVID-19 pandemic - Massive Science - April 16th, 2020
- How to Deal With Feeling Bad About Your Body During Isolation - VICE UK - April 12th, 2020
- Novelist Andrew Cotto on Giving Up Meat and Dairy for a Week. - The Beet - April 12th, 2020
- He Eats Meat But Owns Vegan Restaurantsand in the Wake of Coronavirus, He Thinks We All Need to Rethink Our Diets - VegNews - April 12th, 2020