Put down those salad tongs! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released a food safety alert regarding romaine lettuce. According to the CDC, 32 people from 11 different states across the country have reported symptoms of E. coli connected with contaminated romaine. (Sound familiar? This is the second romaine-related E. coli outbreak this year.)
As of yet, the specific source of this outbreak hasn’t been pinpointed, so for now, consumers are encouraged to dispose of all romaine in their homes.
What you should do next
A food safety alert can sound pretty scary, especially if you rely on leafy greens for lunch and dinner. Take these steps to protect yourself:
- Throw away all romaine that you’ve purchased. That means whole heads of the lettuce, romaine hearts and any salad mixes that contain this lettuce. If you’re not sure if your bag of salad includes romaine, the CDC recommends that you toss it just to be safe.
- Wash and sanitize any surfaces that have come in contact with the lettuce to prevent the potential spread of E. coli—a bacteria that can cause a lot of distress to your digestive system. So be sure to clean those plastic containers, and even your refrigerator shelves, well. Here are our tips for cleaning up your fridge.
- Be sure to avoid the salad bar at your local grocer and don’t order any romaine-based salads when you’re dining out. Restaurants and retailers are under instruction from the CDC to dispose of any contaminated lettuce, but it’s best to look out for yourself when your health is at risk.
What can you do to protect you and your family from E. coli
Keeping your family safe during any outbreaks is essential. Disposing of the lettuce and cleaning up your fridge are great first steps. However, if you’re afraid you might have consumed some bad romaine recently, be aware of the symptoms of E. coli. They include abdominal cramping and vomiting—essentially like a bad stomach bug.
If you have any concerns, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider. You can also report your illness to your local health department if you think it can be helpful to public health investigators.