CDC: Consumers Should Not Eat Romaine Lettuce Due to E. Coli Risk

New information collected from state and local health officials in Alaska, along with other information collected to date, indicates that romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Ariz., growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people ill. Currently, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.

The CDC, in cooperation with other public health agencies, is warning consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Ariz., growing region, including whole heads and hearts, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine. Information collected by the CDC and other agencies indicates that romaine lettuce from the region could be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 and could make people sick.

CDC began investigating this multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 earlier this month. As of April 18, 53 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli have been reported from 16 states. Illnesses began on dates ranging from March 13 to April 6, and 31 of the 53 people affected have been hospitalized, including five people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

State and local health officials continue to interview ill people about the foods they ate and other exposures before they became ill. Forty-one (95 percent) of 43 people who've been interviewed reported having eaten romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started.

New information collected from state and local health officials in Alaska, along with other information collected to date, indicates that romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people ill. Currently, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.

The CDC advises consumers to not buy or eat romaine lettuce at a grocery store or restaurant unless they can confirm it is not from the Yuma growing region. Unless the product source is known, consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought lettuce at home should not eat it and throw it away, regardless of whether any of it has been eaten without anyone getting sick. Because product labels do not always identify growing regions, romaine lettuce should be thrown away if its growing region cannot be determined. If consumers cannot identify whether the lettuce is romaine, it should not be eaten and instead be thrown away.

Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region, including whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. Restaurants and retails also should ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce. The investigation is ongoing.

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