The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned consumers on Friday not to eat romaine lettuce of any kind harvested in the Salinas Valley , one of California’s main agricultural regions, because it may be contaminated with one type of particularly dangerous E. coli bacteria that have made 40 people sick in 16 states .
On Friday afternoon, health authorities advised consumers through a statement not to eat lettuce produced in that Californian region and retailers that do not sell it.
The warning refers to “whole heads of romaine lettuce, hearts of romaine lettuce and packages of pre-cut lettuce, and salad blends containing romaine lettuce.” The restriction also mentions Caesar salads and “spring mix” ( spring mix, which includes various vegetables) containing said food.
According to the CDC, most romaine lettuce products are labeled with a harvest location that shows where they were grown.
A total of 28 hospitalizations have been reported so far. Five of these people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
This strain is the same that caused outbreaks related to green leafy vegetables and romaine lettuce in the last two years.
FOOD SAFETY ALERT: Do not eat, sell, or serve any romaine lettuce labeled as grown in “Salinas.” Find out how to identify this lettuce, which is linked to an E. coli outbreak: https://t.co/sZvP3yMmqV pic.twitter.com/9xrDhw58rf
— CDC (@CDCgov) November 22, 2019
Shortly before Thanksgiving last year, the CDC issued an unusually broad alert warning consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce of any kind, in response to an outbreak of contaminated lettuce disease.
This type of E. coli bacteria produces a Shiga toxin that can enter a person’s bloodstream and wreak havoc on kidney function. Symptoms of infection include vomiting, painful cramps and diarrhea that is often bloody.
Laboratory evidence and interviews with sick consumers indicate that Romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing region may be contaminated with this strain. The complete genome sequencing shows that the romaine lettuce strain tested by the Maryland Department of Health is genetically related to E. coli found in sick people in the outbreak . That lettuce was harvested in Salinas.
“We are concerned about the potential of contaminated lettuce on store shelves and in people’s refrigerators,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, CDC director of Diseases Transmitted by Food, Water and Environment, in a statement sent to the USA Today media.
The CDC reported that the illnesses began on September 24 and has cases until November 10. The age range of the patients varied from 3 to 89 years, with an average age of 22 years.
Wisconsin has the majority of cases with ten, followed by Ohio with five and California with four; Idaho, Maryland and Pennsylvania had three cases each. Arizona and New Mexico each had two cases.
The next eight states had single known cases: Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington.