The Michigan Department of Community Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health issued separate public warnings concerning chopped shredded iceberg lettuce which may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Several illnesses with the same rare pattern of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported in both states, and the common link is believed to be bagged iceberg lettuce distributed to several institutions and restaurants by Detroit-based Aunt Mid's Produce Co. The distributor has voluntarily suspended distribution of all iceberg lettuce products.
Immediately after being notified of the possible link in the U.S., the CFIA initiated a food safety investigation. The CFIA is continuing to work closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (OMHLTC), local public health authorities and U.S. officials on the investigation. CFIA has contacted all known importers and the trace back of products is nearing completion.
This iceberg lettuce was imported into Ontario for use in restaurants and institutions. Two illnesses with the same PFGE pattern of E. coli as the U.S. outbreak have been confirmed in Ontario.
Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria may cause serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Some people may have seizures or strokes and some may need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others may live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.