Put down that salad fork, everyone. The Public Health Agency of Canada have just released a pretty drastic warning, advising people in Canada and the U.S. to not to eat any romaine lettuce, no matter where it's from. This is due to an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, which has so far sickened 18 people in two provinces. In the U.S., 32 people were infected in 11 states, with 13 landing in the hospital.
The reported illnesses all happened in October, but because there has not identified a source for the lettuce, officials warn that all romaine everywhere is suspect. This is the same kind of bacteria — but not the same outbreak — that caused the great Yuma, Arizona, romaine scare of earlier this spring.
"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," says the alert. "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 have had any romaine — or any salad mix that may have contained romaine — in your refrigerator, you should also take steps to thoroughly clean and sanitize the drawer or shelves where it was stored.
Symptoms of E. coli infection can include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. According to the CDC, most people get better within five to seven days, but if you have diarrhea for more than three days or accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or the kind of persistent vomiting that won't even let you keep liquids down, see a doctor. There is a chance you could develop a kidney-damaging condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, so this is nothing to take lightly.