Over the past six weeks, at least 32 people in the U.S. have gone to the doctor suffering symptoms of food poisoning. With closer examination, each one of those cases had one identical strain of E. coli bacteria. The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention warned US consumers on Tuesday to not eat romaine lettuce because it has been contaminated with E. coli.E
The people found sick have been reported in 11 states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. From the patients reported sick, 13 have been hospitalized. One hospitalized patient developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (a potentially life-threatening form of kidney failure) . The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified an additional 18 cases from E. coli in Ontario and Quebec.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottieb said Tuesday that it is “frustrating” that the FDA cannot tie the outbreak to a specific grower, but “we have confidence that it’s tied to romaine lettuce.” As far as the FDA does know, they recommend that consumers should not eat any romaine lettuce product, including “whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, such as spring mix and Caesar salad. Retailers and restaurants also should not serve or sell any until more is known about the outbreak. Gottieb explained that this outbreak is similar to one had December 2017. Although it is not linked to that event specifically, due to the similar times of occurrence, it may be related to the season harvest in California.
People of all ages are at risk of becoming infected with E. coli. Specific people who are at more risk are children under 5, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems. “That’s why we think it’s critical to get this information out,” Gottlieb said.