The FDA, along with growers, researchers and other entities in California, have announced a multi-year study to enhance food safety through better understanding of human pathogens in the environment. Among the participants are the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the University of California-Davis, Western Center for Food Safety (WCFS), and agricultural stakeholders in the Central Coast of California.
An FDA announcement stated: “The launch of this study follows a series of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in recent years linked to California’s lettuce production regions, particularly the most recent three outbreaks in the fall of 2019 which collectively resulted in 188 people falling ill.”
“In response, FDA launched an investigation, the findings of which are outlined in a report released in May 2020. The FDA also published a Leafy Green STEC Action Plan to address issues associated with leafy green Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) contamination. This new longitudinal study is included in the action plan, as well as the continuation of a similar study being conducting in the Yuma, Arizona growing region.”
Officials with FDA say a vital part of the Leafy Green STEC Action Plan is the need to address knowledge gaps in order to advance prevention. Thus, the multi-year study will examine how pathogens survive and move through the environment and possibly contaminate produce.