The main criteria that should be considered is the type of infection based on microbiological evidence. Additionally, it is important to determine whether or not there was onsite mishandling which may have led to E. coli being present on particular products. The scope of the outbreak would also be important, as it would show either a local outbreak, or a more widespread one that would indicate a larger producer.
All steps between harvest and consumption would be needed to facilitate the traceback. Thus, the events from the time of purchase by the customer would be needed to be traced back down the supply chain all the way back to the grower. This means an investigation on the seller, wholesaler, processer, and laborers involved in harvesting the sprouts. The dates of purchase and processing, along with lot numbers, would also be helpful.
The general hypothesis...
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