Does your company import romaine lettuce to Canada? You’ll need to read this post.
Romaine lettuce imported from the U.S. has been associated with several outbreaks of foodborne E. coli illnesses in North America. U.S. food safety investigators have identified a specific geographic area – four counties in California’s Salinas Valley – as the source of these outbreaks.
Beginning this fall, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will implement temporary license conditions on romaine lettuce imports coming from the U.S. Specifically, importers of whole-head romaine lettuce and/or salad mixes that contain romaine lettuce originating from the U.S. must:
- Declare that the product in question does not originate from Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito and Monterey counties in Salinas Valley, or
- Submit attestations and Certificates of Analysis for each shipment, clearly indicating that the romaine shipment does not contain detectable levels of E. coli O157:H7.
These temporary conditions will be in force from September 28 to December 22, 2022, and are in addition to other existing import requirements. Other details about these mandates can be found on the CFIA’s website.
There are hundreds of strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria; E. coli O157:H7 “causes a severe intestinal infection in humans… [and produces] a potent toxin that damages the lining of the intestinal wall causing bloody diarrhea.” Roughly 470 Canadians are infected with E. coli every year, and several deadly and high-profile outbreaks have occurred in Canada since the 1980s – prompting greater public awareness and changes in regulations and health practices.
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