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CDC Says To Throw Out All Romaine Lettuce Due To New E. Coli Outbreak

There Has Been A Recall On Romaine Lettuce In The US And Canada

By: Eboni Walker

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention has announced another E. coli breakout

On Tuesday, CDC advised US consumers to not eat romaine lettuce because it has been contaminated by the bacteria.

As of Wednesday, thirty-two people have affected by the breakout. Thirteen of these individuals have been hospitalized.

The CDC reported one of the hospitalized people had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a potentially life-threatening issue involving kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

The outbreak has been seen in 11 states so far; California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Photo: 123Rf

The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported 18 people being sick from the same E. coli strain in Ontario and Quebec.

The US Food and Drug Administration is also investigating the outbreak.

They have advised for anyone with romaine lettuce at home to throw it away; even if you have eaten some and did not get sick. This includes all types and uses of romaine lettuce, such as “whole heads of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.”

The CDC also advised for people to throw away lettuce if they are unaware if it is romaine or not. Take note that salad mix contains romaine and is not safe. Drawers and shelves where romaine was kept should also be cleaned thoroughly as well.

Restaurants and retailers are advised not to serve or sell romaine lettuce at this time.

“Most of the romaine lettuce being harvested right now is coming from the California region, although there’s some lettuce coming in from Mexico,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottieb.

He said, while it is frustrating to be unaware of the specific grower the outbreak is in connection with, they are confident that it is the romaine lettuce.

With no one distributor to identify as the problem, the FDA is warning consumers to avoid forms and brands of romaine lettuce.

The illnesses from this outbreak began in  October and are not related to the outbreak from over the summer.

Gottlieb said, a very similar outbreak involving romaine lettuce occurred last December, which also affected the United States and Canada.

“The strain in 2017 is the same as the strain in this fall 2018 outbreak, and the time of year is exactly the same. So It’s likely associated with the end of season harvest in California,” he said

The only thing that is different is that it is definite that the romaine lettuce in both countries.

“This year, we’re a month earlier, so we’re earlier in the process, earlier in the throes of an outbreak,” Gottlieb said. “So we’re able to actually get real-time information and conduct effective trace back and isolate what the source is.”

The symptoms to look for with an E. coli infection is watery, bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. These symptoms typically occur three to four days after consuming the bacteria.

According to the CDC, most people infected by the bacteria get better within five to seven days. But this particular strain of E. coli tends to cause more severe illness.

People of all ages can be affected by this E. coli strain.

The FDA says, “children under 5, adults older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with chronic diseases, are more likely to develop severe illness, but even healthy children and adults can become seriously ill.”

“That’s why we think it’s critical to get this information out,” Gottlieb said. “We understand fully the impact this has, not just on the growers and the distributors but also on consumers — consumers who are preparing meals for the holidays, who have the product will now need to discard, maybe food that they’ve already cooked.”