Update: The ban on all romaine lettuce is officially over. Last week, the CDC recommended staying away from romaine altogether while an on-going investigation — into an E. coli outbreak that impacted 43 people in 12 states — determined the source of the bacteria. According to the FDA, it has been determined that the E. coli can be traced back to California. "Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources," explained the FDA in a statement. See here for more information on how to tell if romaine is safe to eat.
This story was originally published on November 20, 2018.
Put down that salad fork, everyone. The Centers for Disease Control have just released a pretty drastic warning, advising people in the U.S. and Canada 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 32 people in 11 states, with 13 landing in the hospital. In Canada, another 18 people in two provinces were also infected.
The reported illnesses all happened in October, but because the CDC has not identified a source for the lettuce, it says 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.