Coli outbreak warning extended to all types of romaine lettuce products

Henrietta Strickland
April 21, 2018

The CDC warning, due to an outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce, has been expanded to include all forms of romaine, including whole heads and hearts of romaine grown in the Yuma, Arizona, growing area. An update issued on Friday, however, says customers should also avoid whole heads and hearts of romaine, in addition to chopped lettuce, unless they can determine that it was not grown in Yuma.

A previous consumer alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding chopped romaine lettuce products has been extended to include all romaine lettuce products.

More than 50 people in 16 states have been sickened by E. coli after eating tainted romaine lettuce, according to the agency.

No deaths have been reported.

Information collected to date indicates that romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick. Therefore, consumers should throw out any romaine lettuce in their homes, even if partially eaten, and avoid eating romaine at restaurants unless the establishment can confirm that the lettuce is not from Yuma.

No common grower, supplier, distributor or brand has yet been identified.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, which can be bloody, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. 1 case was reported in Washington State. Thirty-one of those have been hospitalized, the CDC said, and although no one has died, five people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Romaine lettuce is sometimes packed in the field and shipped directly to restaurants or grocery stores.

"This bacteria can actually get inside the lettuce leaf", he said. Infections start when someone swallows a tiny amount of human or animal feces through a variety of ways, including contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk, unclean water or contact with the feces of infected people. While most strains are harmless, the one found in recent patients - 0157:H7 - is a specific strain that can cause serious illness.

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