Do not eat any form of romaine lettuce from any region, CDC warns
For the second time this year (and just in time for Thanksgiving), major retailers and shoppers are being warned to throw away all romaine lettuce due to a widespread E. coli contamination, as it's currently unsafe to eat or cook with in any form, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday.
The federal safety agency is asking all shoppers to immediately throw away romaine lettuce that they've recently purchased, advising a blanket ban on all romaine lettuce—no matter the origin or when it was grown. The warning includes chopped, pre-washed mixes, whole romaine heads, and various mixes that include romaine lettuce.
The CDC bulletin says that 32 people in 11 different states have become sick after eating contaminated romaine—13 of these consumers have been hospitalized with severe complications, with one patient suffering from a rare form of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (for full symptoms of E. coli poisoning, click here). No deaths have been reported thus far.
Currently, the origin of this E. coli outbreak isn't clear and the CDC bulletin says federal agents are investigating—unfortunately, the warning isn't limited to one region (the outbreak earlier this year was linked to the Yuma, Arizona, region) meaning that a national blanket ban is being recommended until further notice.
While it's unclear if the two outbreaks are currently related, the CDC says that a common strain of E.coli was detected in six of those affected by the most recent outbreak: this strain has been also traced back to earlier illnesses this year in January, affecting individuals in the United States and Canada.
Five individuals died in the Yuma, Arizona, outbreak, which affected upwards of 215 individuals in more than 35 states between March and June. It wasn't until June that national investigators declared their blanket ban to be over, but investigators didn't discover the source of that outbreak until August, when an irrigation canal was discovered to be contaminated with fecal matter from nearby cattle.
According to the CDC's bulletin, all recent E. coli outbreaks are tied to a single strain known as E. coli O157:H7. This strain of E.coli is particularly devastating due to the fact that it produces a toxin known as Shiga, which can lead to the rare form of kidney failure known as HUS.
We'll continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available. For now, plan on ditching romaine lettuce for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday—there's plenty of ways you can enjoy fresh greens without romaine lettuce, including these 9 easy-to-make recipes that are perfect for any holiday dinner.