By: Jory Lange
Just when people thought it was safe to eat Caesar salad again, there is another romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak. This time, 32 people in 11 states have been infected with E coli O157:H7. 13 of them have been hospitalized. 1 person has developed HUS, or hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure. Children, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to severe complications (like HUS) from E coli infections.
The CDC recommends that anyone with romaine lettuce in their homes should throw it away. “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.” The CDC advises consumers that, “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.”
This is the third E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce or leafy greens in just the last year. In November and December of 2017, 25 people spread across 15 states developed E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating leafy greens. 9 people had to be hospitalized. 2 people developed kidney failure. And 1 person died.
The FDA reports that, “Genetic analysis of the E. coli O157:H7 strains tested to date from patients in this current outbreak are similar to strains of E. coli O157:H7 associated with a previous outbreak from the Fall of 2017 that also affected consumers in both Canada and the U.S. The 2017 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 was associated with leafy greens in the U.S. and romaine in Canada. This year, romaine lettuce is the suspected vehicle for both the U.S. and Canadian outbreaks.”
And earlier this year, romaine lettuce infected 210 people in 36 states with E coli O157:H7. 96 of these people were hospitalized, 27 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and 5 people died.