Before making (or buying) a salad for lunch this week, beware: It could be contaminated with E. coli. So far more than 50 people across more than 20 states have been affected, dozens of them hospitalized and one reported death, due to an E. coli contamination found in packages of pre-chopped romaine lettuce. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends refraining from eating or buying romaine lettuce unless you can confirm that is is not from the Yuma, Arizona growing region where the outbreak has been traced to.
The contaminated romain may have originated in Arizona, but cases of E. coli illnesses are spread across the country. At this point, the states with the biggest outbreaks are California, Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Jersey, Montana and Alaska. Several of the people hospitalized have developed a type of kidney failure due to a toxin in the E. coli.
How can it be avoided?
Although the reported illnesses occurred between March 22 and April 21, 2018, you should still be on guard when consuming any romaine lettuce and follow these everyday tips to stay safe from E. coli. Before purchasing romaine (or eating it at a restaurant), be sure to find out where that lettuce comes from. Avoid purchasing chopped romaine lettuce that was grown near Yuma, Arizona, and refrain from ordering salad while dining out if it includes romaine and you can not confirm its origin. Since it can be difficult to tell the growing region from many packages, we advise avoiding the stuff altogether until the coast is clear. Looking for an alternative? Try these spinach salad recipes instead.
A recurring issue
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time E. coli has contaminated romaine lettuce in the last few months. Twenty-four people from 15 states were affected starting in December 2017. At first, the infected lettuce were “leafy greens” but was soon reported to be romaine lettuce.