(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi officials say there is no reason to avoid Hawaii-grown lettuce and other produce due to the multistate outbreak of E. coli and say that “in fact, purchasing local produce at this time would help to strengthen Hawaii’s food security.”
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture today re-emphasized that it is safe to consume Hawaiʻi-grown lettuce in a media release.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigations have linked an E. coli outbreak to romaine lettuce grown in areas in California. “As of Nov. 26, 2018, this outbreak has resulted in 43 people becoming ill in 12 states, with the last reported illness onset date being Oct. 31, 2018,” the FDA reported on Monday. “An additional 22 people in Canada have become ill, and the FDA and our partners are also coordinating the investigation with Canadian health and food safety authorities.”
“This most recent contamination outbreak underscores the importance of all industry members throughout the supply chain to follow a labeling program for their produce,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Produce labeled with grower information and harvest date will help communicate to consumers that produce being re-introduced into retail and foodservice markets is safe to consume. A standardized approach to produce labeling is one mechanism to ensure consumers have access to locally grown romaine that was not implicated in the outbreak,” Enright added.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture added:
HDOA continues to work on Governor David Ige’s initiative to double local food production by 2020. Hawaii consumers play a critical role in helping to achieve this goal which will not only bolster our agricultural industries, but also our local economy as a whole. In addition, the support of local wholesalers and retailers is key to providing local produce to the community. By purchasing local produce identified by growing location and a harvest date, we hope consumers will continue to eat fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet.
The departments of health and agriculture, as well as the University of Hawaiʻi Cooperative Extension Service, also remind consumers to thoroughly wash all produce before consuming – no matter where it comes from.