CDC: Do not eat any romaine lettuce amid E. coli outbreak

Warning includes all types of romaine lettuce and any salad mix

WASHINGTON - The Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday issued a warning to everyone in the United States: Do not eat any romaine lettuce.

CDC officials are investigating the cause of an E. coli outbreak that has infected 32 people in 11 states. No deaths have been reported. The last illness was reported on Oct. 31.

"CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available."

The Food and Drug Administration says it’s working with officials in Canada, where people are also being warned to stay away from romaine lettuce. The strain identified is different than the one linked to romaine earlier this year, but it appears similar to one linked to leafy greens last year.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the agency doesn’t yet have enough information to request suppliers issue a recall. But he says suppliers can help by withdrawing romaine products until the contamination can be identified.

The warning includes all types of romaine lettuce and any salad mix that contains romaine lettuce.

  • 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 advice includes 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. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
  • Report your illness to the health department.
  • Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

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