CDC expands warnings on e. coli, Yuma-sourced romaine lettuce

After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded warnings around the use of Yuma, Arizona-originated romaine lettuce due to e. coli infections late Friday, restaurateurs are also receiving new information. 

Shortly before 7 p.m. Friday, new information prompted the CDC to expand its warnings around the potentially tainted lettuce to cover all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region, the agency said. The warning includes whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, in addition to chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

The agency has advised restaurants operators not to serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region and consumers have been advised not to eat or purchase the product. 

The expanded warning is based on information from newly reported illnesses in Alaska. Ill consumers in Alaska reported eating lettuce from whole heads of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. The agency said the lettuce could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick.

At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified. Likewise, product labels often do not identify growing regions, so all users of the lettuce and consumers are told to throw out any romaine lettuce if you're uncertain about where it was grown. Likewise, consumers are also being instructed that if they are not sure if it's romaine, not to eat it, which is likely prompting lots of questions to restaurant staff and the need for on-the-spot training around the issue. 

The CDC said that restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce. Here are other facts about the problem from the CDC: 

  • CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) infections.
  • 53 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 16 states.
  • 31 people have been hospitalized, including five people who have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
  • No deaths have been reported.

This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide more information as it becomes available. The new Alaska cases will be included in the next case count update; they are not reflected on the epi curve and map for this posting.

Topics: Food & Beverage, Food Safety, Health & Nutrition

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