Nova Scotia health official traces source of E. coli outbreak to lettuce

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HALIFAX - Health officials say lettuce at KFC and Taco Bell locations is the likely source of a recent outbreak of gastro-intestinal illness caused by E. coli bacteria in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario.

Dr. Frank Atherton, Nova Scotia's deputy chief medical officer of health, says investigators believe that lettuce distributed to the fast-food outlets is behind the outbreak.

He says lettuce has a short shelf life and no new cases have been reported in more than a week, so it's unlikely the lettuce is still in the food chain.

But as an added precaution, Atherton says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recalling the lettuce believed to be at the centre of the outbreak.

The federal government is continuing to investigate the cause of the contamination, but Atherton says inspections done in Nova Scotia found no food safety issues related to the outbreak at the affected restaurants.

New Brunswick has reported six cases of the infection and Nova Scotia says five of 10 confirmed cases are linked to the outbreak.

There have been also four cases in Ontario.

Symptoms of the gastro-intestinal illness include severe cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Organizations: Taco Bell, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario HALIFAX

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