Romaine lettuce has been linked to a winter 2017 E. coli outbreak as Canadian and U.S. health officials have warned consumers about the product. Food Safety News reported that romaine lettuce has been linked to multiple illnesses and at least one death in a winter 2017 E. coli outbreak in the United States and Canada.
Consumer Reports has now advised readers in the United States to avoid romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak could be determined and the affected items removed from grocery shelves. Consumer Reports is following the lead of Canadian health officials and cautioning Americans to avoid romaine lettuce:
Over the past seven weeks, 58 people in the U.S. and Canada have become ill from a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria, likely from eating romaine lettuce. In the U.S., the infections have occurred in 13 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state). Five people in the U.S. have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There has also been one death in Canada.
Canadian health authorities identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada, and are advising people in the country’s eastern provinces to consider eating other types of salad greens until further notice. In the U.S., government health officials are investigating the outbreaks, but have stopped short of recommending people avoid romaine lettuce or any other food.
This strain of E. coli (0157:H7) produces a toxin that in some cases can lead to serious illness, kidney failure, and even death.
That’s why Consumer Reports’ food safety experts are advising that consumers stop eating romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified and the offending product is removed from store shelves.
The CDC reports that 17 illnesses have occurred in California; Connecticut; Illinois; Indiana; Michigan; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New York; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Virginia; Vermont; and Washington, between Nov. 15 through Dec. 8, 2017. The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating 41 illnesses.
“Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw,” James Rogers, the director of Food Safety and Research, said in a post on the group’s website.
Compass Group, the nation’s largest food service company, has suspended the use of romaine lettuce in all operations amid the ongoing investigation into an outbreak of E. coli illnesses. Compass alerted its distributors and recommended “alternative leafy greens for use in the business” in a statement.
E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, live in human and animal intestines and can contaminate fruits and vegetables when they come in contact with feces from infected animals. That contamination can happen at any point along the journey from farm to table. Most E. coli strains are harmless to humans.
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Have you seen any further warnings about romaine lettuce or have you experienced any issues with it? If so, be sure to contact the proper authorities to address and help resolve the problem.
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Author: Shawn Rice