Although vegetables are a healthy and integral part of our diet, it’s important to know where our vegetables are coming from and what kind of state they’re kept in. Although we’re often wary of raw meat as a source of food-borne illness, the truth is that we can also get diseases and food poisoning from veggies under the wrong circumstances as well.
Unfortunately, that’s recently been the case for one of the most common supermarket vegetables: romaine lettuce.
On April 13th, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced a multi-state outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce.
According to the report, the CDC has tracked at least 35 cases of E. coli infection In 11 states including Washington, Idaho, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Connecticut and New Jersey. Of all these states, the areas with the highest concentrations of outbreaks are Pennsylvania, Idaho and New Jersey with nine, eight and seven outbreaks, respectively.
For their part, the CDC has conducted interviews with many of the victims to get more information.
After conducting interviews with 28 of the 35 victims, the CDC says that lettuce was the common factor in their illness.
As a result, the CDC issued a statement on their Facebook page advising customers around the country not to buy romaine lettuce for the time being—and to throw out any romaine lettuce they may already have lying around the house. More specifically, they told consumers to take note of the lettuce’s origins:
“Outbreak Alert: E.coli outbreak linked to chopped romaine lettuce. Before you buy or eat chopped romaine lettuce at stores or restaurants, ask to make sure it is not from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If they don’t know, don’t buy or eat it.”
Although the contamination has been traced back to facilities in Yuma, Arizona, the investigation is ongoing and there may yet be more outbreaks.
According to reports from NBC and CNN, 22 people have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak. Of those patients, three have also developed kidney failure as a result of the infection which can lead to death in some severe cases.
While the CDC has just made a new statement, earlier cases of E. coli poisoning from lettuce have been reported throughout the year.
As early as mid-November of this year, various organizations have noted individuals being poisoned with E. coli.
According to a report from the CBC, E. coli contamination is typically the result of cattle feces polluting water supplies that are then used to irrigate crops. While E. coli poisoning is dangerous to individuals, it’s additionally dangerous because those who are infected can also spread it to others—even if the others haven’t eaten the contaminated food themselves.
While the CDC’s recommendation was to explicitly avoid romaine from Yuma, Arizona, those who are extra cautious would do well to completely avoid it for now.
Although no deaths have yet been reported as a result of this poisoning, E. coli remains a real threat to all people. While healthy adults can often make a full recovery, children and others with immune system issues can die as a result of these poisonings in some cases. Be sure to be careful out there and spread the news about this outbreak!
For further information about this outbreak, visit the CDC’s website for a full breakdown.
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