New CDC warning: NO romaine lettuce is safe to eat

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Caesar salad with romaine lettuce
Image Credit: Dreamstime

A new warning issued Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that no one should be eating, selling or serving lettuce until more is knows about a E. coli outbreak that sickened at least 32 people in 11 states. No deaths have been reported thus far, but at least one person have developed kidney failure suspected to be related to the outbreak.

The CDC warns that number might rise, however, because “Illnesses that occurred after October 30, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli infection and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to three weeks.”

Map of reported cases courtesy of the CDC

This latest warning comes on the heals of a CDC alert from earlier this year regarding E. coli contamination in romaine lettuce. At this point, it is unclear whether this is a new outbreak or a continuation of the earlier one. Since no one source of the outbreak has been identified, consumers across the country are being urged to avoid romaine in any form from any source.

Here are the detailed instructions for consumers directly from the CDC:

  • Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.
    • This advice includes all types or uses 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.
    • If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
    • Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.
  • Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:
    • Talk to your healthcare provider.
    • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
    • Report your illness to the health department.
    • Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

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