This week, to date, 11 states have been infected with the E. coli 0157:H7 strand spread by romaine lettuce. The states already known by the CDC to have been infected are: Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, Idaho Missouri, Ohio, New York Pennsylvania, Washington and Virginia. Romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona has been determined to be the bad product. However, the CDC is still unsure which specific supplier is the cause of the outbreak, because they have yet to tie it down to one common supplier.

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So far there have been 35 reported cases of illness from consumption of this tainted romaine lettuce. Three cases have resulted in a type of kidney failure, though there are no reported fatalities at this point in the ongoing investigation. When reports of E. coli first arose in January, only 17 people were sick; more than doubling that by April.

Consumers should be mindful, and make sure that any lettuce they buy has not been grown in Yuma, Arizona. This includes all bagged romaine lettuces, spring mixes, etc. If you are unsure of where it is grown, do not purchase of consume it. This includes restaurant salads and lettuce dishes. If they restaurant is unaware of where their supplier grows the lettuce they use, avoid it at all costs until the specific supplier is identified in the E. coli outbreak case.

Restaurants should also take head and ask their supplier where the lettuce they purchase is grown. If it is grown in the Yuma, Arizona area do not use it in your restaurant dishes.

If you are unsure of where your lettuce is from, and already have it at home, or have already started eating it, it’s best to throw it away or find out where it is grown before consuming it again. Even if you haven’t yet gotten sick off your bag, you could in weeks to follow. E. coli symptoms can take as long as 2-3 weeks to appear, so anyone who consumed romaine lettuce after the 27th of March may not yet have noticeable symptoms. However, symptoms can being as early as the same to next day; each case is different.

E. coli symptoms:

  • Diarrhea (bloody/watery)
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Children and elderly adults are more at risk to contracting E. coli than others. However, nobody is completely safe from contracting it. People with weakened immune systems are also susceptible to contracting E. coli. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you may have consumed lettuce infected with E. coli consult a doctor immediately.

Remember to wash all surfaces that may have come in contact with the lettuce at question very well with warm water and soap. This will avoid cross contamination and the spread of E. coli bacteria to other foods and food-contact surfaces.

For more information on this ongoing investigation, visit the CDC website.