Here's why you may want to avoid eating romaine lettuce

Faith Castro
January 5, 2018

People should stay away from romaine lettuce until us and Canadian health officials get to the bottom of an outbreak of E. coli infections, Consumer Reports says. Though U.S. health officials are investigating the cause of the outbreak, they have not officially identified lettuce or any other food as the source.

Amid the investigation, Consumer Reports is warning people to be cautious of eating romaine lettuce. Five people in the USA have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two of the hospitalized patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. But infection with the O157:H7 strain, which produces a shiga toxin, can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. America's onsets appear concentrated between the end of November and the start of December, but, again, authorities aren't sure what exactly is infected, so they can't say that the threat is contained. However, several of the USA cases have been caused by a bacterium with the same genetic "fingerprint" as the one in Canada.

Consumer Reports said people should err on the side of caution and throw out romaine lettuce.

But the FDA said there just isn't enough information yet.

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As a result, the nonprofit consumer magazine said its "food safety experts are advising that consumers stop eating romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified and the offending product is removed from store shelves". Five eastern provinces have been affected, with the highest number of cases, 14, recorded in Quebec, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (13), Ontario (8), New Brunswick (5) and Nova Scotia (1). One person in each country has died. The majority of these Canadian cases - almost three-quarters - are in females. "It could be that there's a different [food] source of this exact same pathogen", he said.

Fowlie told ABC News Thursday that the CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among the sick people, including leafy greens and romaine.

"Canada has not been able to get upstream, either".

Not only does he advise not purchasing romaine lettuce now on grocery store shelves, he suggests consumers toss out any they have in the fridge. These manifest about a week after initial E.Coli infection symptoms.

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