Throw It All Away: CDC Expands Warning on Romaine LettuceNBC
April 20, 2018
Federal officials expanded a romaine lettuce warning on Friday to cover all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region.
"Unless the source of the product is known, consumers anywhere in the United States who have any store-bought romaine lettuce at home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, throw out any romaine lettuce if you're uncertain about where it was grown."
The expanded warning is based on information from newly reported illnesses in Alaska.
"Do not buy or eat romaine lettuce at a grocery store or restaurant unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region," the CDC states.
An E. coli outbreak that health investigators believe is linked to contaminated lettuce has expanded, with 53 cases now reported in 16 states, and nearly three dozen hospitalized, at least five of whom suffered kidney failure.
Officials believe the contaminated lettuce was grown in Yuma, Arizona, though they have not identified a grower, supplier, distributor or brand.
Cases have been reported across the tri-state area, the most in New Jersey (7); New York and Connecticut have three cases each. Pennsylvania has the most (12) in this outbreak, followed by Idaho (10). Check the CDC's case count map.
The CDC added nine more hospitalizations to its count from last week, bringing the total in this outbreak to 31. Five of those cases involved a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition caused by the abnormal destruction of red blood cells. No one has died.
Consumers who have bought romaine lettuce - including salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce - are advised to throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.
Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, 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.
Restaurants and retailers are advised to take similar precautions.
Health officials say the outbreak started in late March. Symptoms vary and can range from mild to severe diarrhea to nausea and vomiting. Usually, there is little or no fever present. E. coli can spread from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, the CDC says. It is very contagious and can spread quickly in places such as daycare centers and cruise ships.
"Individuals with this infection usually get better within about 5 to 7 days, however, some illnesses can be serious or even life-threatening," New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in a statement last week. "Anyone experiencing symptoms of this illness should see a healthcare provider."