Taiwan’s FDA issues yellow alert for U.S. romaine lettuce

Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a yellow alert for romaine lettuce Wednesday due to an outbreak of E. coli contamination in the United States and warned that people should be aware of the potential risk of consuming the vegetable.

Following the example of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which warned U.S. consumers Nov. 20 not to eat romaine lettuce, the FDA's alert system for imported food products flashed a yellow light for the vegetable Wednesday, meaning "suspicious but without immediate danger," and said that no cases of infection caused by Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria have been found in Taiwan in the last three years.

FDA Food Safety Division head Pan Chih-kuan (???) said people should be more careful of consuming the vegetable and businesses should strengthen their food control systems, adding that 4,921 metric tons of Taiwan's imported romaine lettuce, equal to 98 percent of the entire imports, came from the U.S. in 2018.

There is currently no ban on importing or selling romaine lettuce and Taiwan's customs inspections of the vegetable mainly focuses on pesticide residue or heavy metal pollution, Pan said.

E. coli can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and occasionally kidney failure, said Yang Chen-chang (???), director of the Division of Clinical Toxicology and Occupational Medicine at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

Lee Ping-ing (???), an attending physician at the Department of Pediatrics of National Taiwan University Hospital, added that E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly form of the food-borne disease that has led to severe outbreaks in Germany and Japan in the past.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel