FDA increases sampling and analysis of produce imports after E. coli outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday that it has increased its sampling and analysis of imported produce from countries reporting E. coli illnesses after a new strain of the bacteria killed 18 people and sickened more than 1,500 in Europe. 

The new precautions also apply to countries that are the potential sources of products involved in the outbreak, the FDA said. 

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"Any products found to be contaminated will be refused admission into the U.S.," the agency said in a statement, "and future shipments will be detained upon entry. As more information about the source of the outbreak emerges, FDA will adjust our public health protection efforts accordingly." 

Agency officials are also telling reporters that there have been few recent shipments of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers or lettuce from Spain or Germany. The outbreak has hit Germany the hardest, and officials in that country have blamed imports from Spain.

The FDA said Spain has sent three shipments of lettuce to this country over the past 18 months, one shipment of cucumbers in May and no tomatoes for the past year and a half.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said two Americans who traveled to Germany recently have gotten sick but are expected to survive.