Consumers are being reminded to avoid romaine lettuce in the produce aisle as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues collecting information about an E. coli outbreak that could make people sick.
Dozens have been sickened in recent weeks, including patients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, according to the CDC, which reported that the contamination outbreak stems from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.
The CDC has suggested that consumers should not sell any romaine lettuce that was grown in that area, including whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine and salad or salad mixes that contain romaine lettuce. Restauranteurs have been advised to contact their suppliers to determine where their lettuce is sourced.
Symptoms of E. coli include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Others may endure a minor fever. As of Friday morning, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue a recall of romaine lettuce in the United States.In response to the outbreak, the CDC has offered tips to consumers:
- Do not eat or buy romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region.
- Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, do not eat or buy it if you are uncertain about where it was grown.
- This advice includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you do not know if the lettuce in a salad mix is romaine, do not eat it.
- Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.
- Don’t prepare food or drink for others when you are sick.
- Cook meats thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Cook steaks and roasts to at least 145˚F and let rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove. Cook ground beef and pork to at least 160˚F. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat.
- Don’t cross-contaminate food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, unless the package says the contents have been washed.
- Avoid raw milk, other unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices.
“Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the US, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw,” Consumer Reports food safety director James Rogers said in a statement.
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