Officials say to avoid romaine lettuce amid E. coli concerns

Officials warn about eating romaine lettuce after deadly E. coli outbreak

Officials warn about eating romaine lettuce after deadly E. coli outbreak

The Center for Disease Control is investigating an E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce that has sickened at least 58 people in the USA and Canada. More information about E. coli can be found here. Escherichia coli bacteria normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals and are typically harmless. They may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, pain or tenderness and diarrhea.

Loblaws Superstores said that since the CFIA, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency have not announced a recall for romaine lettuce products in Canada, it has not stopped selling it in stores.

What's the source of this outbreak?

"Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether USA residents should avoid a particular food". Health officials say the illnesses were reported in Canada and 13 states including New York, California, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

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Five people infected with the unsafe bacteria have been hospitalized, according to Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch. "People in these groups should be particularly vigilant about avoiding romaine lettuce", Rogers said. "But it also can be contaminated during the processing by individuals who are infected or if there was fecal contamination introduced at some point in the distribution (process)".

"It's not like it's frozen and we can go into meat lockers and test food materials for contamination". Infections with E. coli O157 can be life-threatening, especially for the elderly, the very young and immune-compromised people, such as cancer patients, Williams said.

While that "doesn't appear to be the case" with this outbreak, Schellhorn said E. coli. But there are a few forms that can cause diseases.

What can consumers do?

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The CDC reports that the outbreak began in mid-November and is still being tested to confirm whether the cases in the USA and Canada can be traced to the same source.

But Schellhorn suggests it's better to be safe than sorry. Here government health officials are still investigating the outbreaks and have made no suggestions regarding romaine lettuce consumption.

"It's not worth taking a chance ..."

"The suspension of sale is strictly precautionary at this point", she said and chefs are substituting other types of lettuce in salads.

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"I think I would just throw it out".

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