January 20, 2018

Should you stay away from romaine lettuce?

05 January 2018, 01:40 | Rex Hubbard

Romaine Lettuce health warning: Canadian and US authorities warn consumers to avoid over E. coli fears

1 dead, dozens sickened after romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak in United States

People should stay away from romaine lettuce until us and Canadian health officials get to the bottom of an outbreak of E. coli infections, Consumer Reports says. In the US, the infections have occurred in 13 states including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington state.

Five people infected with the unsafe bacteria have been hospitalized, according to Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch. However, several of the United States cases have been caused by a bacterium with the same genetic "fingerprint" as the one in Canada. Officials in Canada have identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in that country, but USA officials say they still don't have enough information to name a food source involved in the American outbreak. In the United States, the illness has occurred in 13 states, including California. Two people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

Canada has been struck with an outbreak caused by the same strain of E. coli; people there became sick in early November through early December.

Canadian health officials believe romaine lettuce is the source of the outbreak in that country, and they're urging consumers to use other salad greens.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued warnings about the outbreak.

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In its news release, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it had a total of 41 cases of E. coli infections in an outbreak that involved five eastern provinces.

Health officials are warning the public about a unsafe strain of E. coli that may be linked to romaine lettuce.

Fowlie told ABC News Thursday that the CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among the sick people, including leafy greens and romaine.

He added that people in certain risk groups, such as young children, seniors, and people with underlying health conditions, be especially vigilant about avoiding romaine lettuce for the time being.

"Based on the Canada investigation, romaine lettuce seems like the most likely source there", Williams said. But food safety experts at Consumer Reports went further, advising everyone to stay away from romaine lettuce as a precaution. It's possible that a single source of contamination - such as a contaminated water supply - could affect different food products, Chapman said.

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