Chopped romaine lettuce linked to E. coli outbreak


Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their chopped romaine lettuce.

Information collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick.

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Twenty-two of them have been hospitalized, including three with kidney failure.

People generally get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E.coli around 3 to 4 days after ingesting the germ. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. "Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick". There were also cases in Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia and Washington state.

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Most strains of E.coli are harmless but O157:H7 is known to cause more severe illness.

Laura Gieraltowski, Ph.D. MPH, Foodborne Outbreak Response Team lead at the CDC, suspects there will be more cases reported in the days and weeks ahead, as illnesses that began after March 27 may not have been counted yet.

The FDA, in conjunction with federal, state, and local partners, found that the chopped romaine in question was grown or originated from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona. If it is unclear from where the lettuce came from Yuma, do not purchase it, CDC suggested. Last year, an outbreak of 17 E. coli infections were reported in 13 states across the United States, all of which occurred from November 15, 2017 through December 8, 2017.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the outbreak spiked last week on April 10 when it added 18 people from nine states to the infected list.

Symptoms usually vary from person to person. Most of those people ate salad at a restaurant; romaine lettuce was the common ingredient. Those infected may suffer from bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting.