The FDA has announced the launch of a multi-year study to improve food safety through enhanced understanding of the ecology of human pathogens that may cause foodborne illness outbreaks. 

Partners include 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. 

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. 

Research teams will be collecting and examining samples from the environment, including adjacent land, well and surface waters, soil inputs that include compost, dust and animal fecal samples.

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