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article imageAmericans and Canadians warned not to eat romaine lettuce

By Karen Graham     Nov 21, 2018 in Health
Health officials in the U.S. and Canada told people Tuesday to stop eating romaine lettuce because of a new E. coli outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants to not serve or sell any romaine lettuce until the agency learns more about the outbreak.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is warning people not to eat romaine lettuce in Ontario and Quebec, according to CBC Canada. Canadian health officials are being questioned over why they have not issued a mandatory recall.
In the U.S., the same question has been asked. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency doesn’t have enough information to ask suppliers for a recall. The contaminated lettuce is likely still on the market, Gottlieb told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) is working with PHAC authorities on the outbreak. To date, the outbreak has sickened 32 people in 11 states, with one person contracting hemolytic uremic syndrome (a type of kidney failure).
In Canada, there have been 18 confirmed cases of the bacterial infection since October, with 15 cases in Quebec and three more in Ontario. Individuals reported eating romaine lettuce at home, as well as in prepared salads purchased at grocery stores, or from menu items ordered at restaurants and fast food chains.
What we know about the current outbreak
Most of the romaine lettuce available at this time of year is grown in California. The current outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona.
In the earlier outbreak this year, the CDC said it was possible the romaine lettuce was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a Shinga toxin-producing E. coli, which can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, the CDC said.
People who have become ill during this current outbreak were infected with E. coli bacteria with the same DNA fingerprint as the E. coli strain isolated from ill people in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to romaine lettuce in Canada.
Do not eat any romaine lettuce
Consumers should keep in mind that washing contaminated romaine lettuce won’t ensure that harmful germs are killed. Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.
This warning covers all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.
If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away. Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. This notice applies to restaurants and retailers.
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