FDA issues statement on E. coli outbreak in Europe

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday addressed the current outbreak of E. coli O104 in Europe.

The U.S. regulatory agency said that it has been in "routine contact" with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the European Union to monitor the current outbreak of E. coli O104 and to track any illnesses in the United States that may be related to the outbreak.

The FDA added that it believed that the outbreak has not affected the U.S. food supply but has established certain additional import controls and currently is conducting increased surveillance of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and raw salads from areas of concern; however, the agency noted that the EU is not a significant source of produce for the United States.

"When these products are presented for import, we will sample them, and we will analyze them," said Dara Corrigan, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The FDA will not allow any products found to be contaminated to enter the United States, and if contamination is found, [the FDA] will flag future shipments for appropriate action. As more information about the source of the outbreak emerges, we will adjust our public health protection efforts, especially those at the border, accordingly."

Added FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition deputy director Donald Kraemer, "Food growers, manufacturers and distributors are responsible for marketing safe food and taking any steps necessary to ensure that their products are indeed safe. The FDA has provided scientific guidance to the produce industry on ways to minimize the risk of E. coli, and these methods will reduce the risk of the strain of E. coli causing the European outbreak, as well as the more common strains."

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