Hold the Romaine Lettuce

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While the outbreak does appear to be associated with leafy greens, according to CDC and FDA statements released yesterday, US health officials have not confirmed a specific type, nor have any food recalls been issued.

An FDA spokesperson later confirmed this position to Consumer Reports: "This work is ongoing".

In the United States, a total of 24 STEC O157:H7 infections have been reported from California (4), CT (2), IL (1), IN (2), Maryland (3), MI (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (1), NY (1), OH (1), Pennsylvania (2), Vermont (1), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). "Although some sick people reported eating romaine lettuce, preliminary data available at this time shows they are not more likely than healthy people to have eaten romaine, based on a CDC food consumption survey". CDC should conduct the investigation while providing timely public information, she recommended.

"State and local public health officials continue to interview sick people in the United States to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started".

Consumer Reports' food safety experts advised that consumers stop eating romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified and the offending product is removed from store shelves. Leafy greens, including romaine lettuce, were the cause of outbreaks from E. coli 0157:H7 in 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013. There is 1 reported death.

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Last week, the CDC said it was eyeing leafy greens as the possible culprit and, this week, seem to be still looking for the source as the outbreak investigation continues. Illnesses began on dates ranging from November 15, 2017 to December 12, 2017.

Since it's better to be safe than sorry, many are advising that you should chuck any romaine lettuce you have lurking in the back of the fridge. The CDC, fifteen states, and the FDA are investigating the outbreak. Holidays can increase this delay. People usually get sick from E. coli O157:H7 three to four days after eating food contaminated with the germ.

Outbreaks of toxin-producing E. coli are more typically linked to beef as the bacteria can get into the meat during slaughter and processing, especially ground beef, but infections from produce are not unheard of.

The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include diarrhea that is bloody or watery, and severe stomach and abdominal cramps.

You can protect yourself by washing your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food.

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