When it comes to food-borne illnesses, we mostly tend to focus our sights on raw meat as the culprit. But as recent news has confirmed, food poisoning and disease can come from even the most common supermarket vegetables — namely, romaine lettuce.
On April 13th, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced a multi-state outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce.
According to the report, the CDC has tracked at least 35 cases of E. coli infection In 11 states including Washington, Idaho, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Connecticut and New Jersey — the areas with the highest concentrations of outbreaks being Pennsylvania, Idaho and New Jersey with nine, eight and seven outbreaks, respectively.
“Outbreak Alert: E.coli outbreak linked to chopped romaine lettuce,” the CDC wrote on its Facebook page. “Before you buy or eat chopped romaine lettuce at stores or restaurants, ask to make sure it is not from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If they don’t know, don’t buy or eat it.”
The CDC issued the following warning to consumers on its website:
“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. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.”
“Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it.”
The contamination has been traced back to facilities in Yuma, Arizona, but the investigation is ongoing. E. coli contamination is typically the result of cattle feces polluting water supplies that are then used to irrigate crops. According to NBC and CNN, 22 people have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak — three of whom have also developed kidney failure as a result of the infection.
Obviously, it’s probably a good idea that you avoid buying and eating romaine lettuce for a while. Be sure to share this information with your friends and family. You can also find more information on the outbreak here.