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CDC Recommends Blanket Ban on ALL Romaine Lettuce, E. coli Discovered Once Again

CDC Recommends Blanket Ban on ALL Romaine Lettuce, E. coli Discovered Once Again


Do not eat any form of romaine lettuce from any region, CDC warns.

For the second time this year (and just in time for Thanksgiving), major retailers and shoppers are being warned to throw away all romaine lettuce due to a widespread E. coli contamination, as it's currently unsafe to eat or cook with in any form, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday.

The federal safety agency is asking all shoppers to immediately throw away romaine lettuce that they've recently purchased, advising a blanket ban on all romaine lettuce—no matter the origin or when it was grown. The warning includes chopped, pre-washed mixes, whole romaine heads, and various mixes that include romaine lettuce.

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The CDC bulletin says that 32 people in 11 different states have become sick after eating contaminated romaine—13 of these consumers have been hospitalized with severe complications, with one patient suffering from a rare form of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (for full symptoms of E. coli poisoning, click here). No deaths have been reported thus far.

Currently, the origin of this E. coli outbreak isn't clear and the CDC bulletin says federal agents are investigating—unfortunately, the warning isn't limited to one region (the outbreak earlier this year was linked to the Yuma, Arizona, region) meaning that a national blanket ban is being recommended until further notice.

While it's unclear if the two outbreaks are currently related, the CDC says that a common strain of E.coli was detected in six of those affected by the most recent outbreak: this strain has been also traced back to earlier illnesses this year in January, affecting individuals in the United States and Canada.

More on E. coli poisoning and romaine lettuce:

According to the CDC's bulletin, all recent E. coli outbreaks are tied to a single strain known as E. coli O157:H7. This strain of E.coli is particularly devastating due to the fact that it produces a toxin known as Shiga, which can lead to the rare form of kidney failure known as HUS.

We'll continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available. For now, plan on ditching romaine lettuce for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday—there's plenty of ways you can enjoy fresh greens without romaine lettuce, including these 9 easy-to-make recipes that are perfect for any holiday dinner.


Prevention

Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals.

Most E. coli are harmless and are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, and other illnesses. The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.

What are Shiga toxin-producing E. coli?

Some kinds of E. coli bacteria cause disease when they make a toxin called Shiga toxin. The bacteria that make these toxins are called &ldquoShiga toxin-producing E. coli,&rdquo or STEC for short.

How can I prevent a STEC infection?

  • Know your chances of getting food poisoning. People with higher chances for foodborne illness are pregnant women, newborns, children, older adults, and those with weak immune systems, such as people with cancer, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS.
  • Practice proper hygiene, especially goodhandwashing.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing and feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler, before touching an infant or toddler&rsquos mouth, and before touching pacifiers or other things that go into an infant or toddler&rsquos mouth.
    • Keep all objects that enter infants&rsquo and toddlers&rsquo mouths (such as pacifiers and teethers) clean.
    • If soap and water aren&rsquot available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (check the product label to be sure). These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and running water.

    Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says the contents have already been washed.


    An E. Coli Outbreak Reportedly Tied to Romaine Lettuce Has Killed Two and Hospitalized Dozens More

    Just as thousands of Americans flood the produce aisle to kickstart healthy-eating New Year's resolutions, Consumer Reports has issued a warning to stay away from romaine lettuce. The popular salad base is believed to be linked to an E. coli outbreak that has left at least two dead and dozens more seriously ill in the U.S. and Canada.

    In late December, the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed that the strain of E. coli that killed one Canadian and hospitalized at least 41 more was directly linked to romaine lettuce. Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did confirm that dozens of Americans across the country have fallen ill due to E. coli and that they are currently investigating the outbreak, the CDC has yet to implement a similar ban on romaine. Food-safety experts at Consumer Reports, however, did so this week. "Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw," James Rogers, director of food safety and research at Consumer Reports, said in a statement.

    According to Consumer Reports, this particular strain of E. coli contains a toxin that can cause serious illness, kidney failure, and death. Young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems due to other illnesses and conditions are especially susceptible to the E. coli infection the organization recommends that these groups take extra special care to avoid romaine lettuce. That said, anyone can be infected by E. coli. Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and, for some people, a slight fever, and symptoms can start anywhere from 24 hours to 10 days after consuming the tainted food. The CDC recommends that you see a doctor if you have any severe symptoms or if diarrhea lasts longer than three days.

    The CDC has reportedly confirmed that the strain of E. coli discovered in the U.S. is "genetically similar" to the one found in Canada but is still hesitant to link it unequivocally to romaine. "Although some sick people reported eating romaine lettuce, preliminary data available at this time shows they were not more likely than healthy people to have eaten romaine, based on a CDC food consumption survey," Brittany Behm, a CDC spokesperson, told Consumer Reports.

    Whether or not romaine is the source of this E. coli strain, it certainly can't hurt to fill your salad bowl with other greens until the cause of the outbreak has been uncovered and eradicated.


    Please, eat a salad. E. coli outbreak didn’t affect our lettuce, N.J. farmers say.

    Romaine lettuce plants are seen in a field along the Pointers-Auburn Road in Mannington Township on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Lettuce is one of the early spring crops already planted in South Jersey. (Bill Gallo Jr. | For NJ.com) SJN SJN

    Hopefully, you ate some salad this weekend or — at least — you’re planning to this week after all those burgers and barbecue from the past few days.

    That’s what farmers in New Jersey are counting on.

    The unofficial start to summer also means the beginning of a season full of Jersey Fresh produce but romaine lettuce growers in the Garden State say they’re strugging to sell the crop and it had nothing to do with them — and more to do with you.

    Farmers said they are still feeling the effects of two recalls due to the discovery of E.coli, even though the bacteria strain was discovered on lettuce from farms in California and Arizona.

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a food safety alert, telling consumers to throw away all Romaine lettuce, no matter where it was grown.

    Alex Dragotta, the host of “The Alex Dragotta Hour,” a farm-centric radio show on 92.1 in Vineland, said he has talked to many of the farmers in Cumberland County who said they are experiencing troubles selling the green vegetable. Dragotta told NJ Advance Media one story of what a farmer has experienced.

    “Two days ago, a farmer told me a guy from Delaware who is a big buyer of his Romaine came to his farm and told him he is not buying it because he is scared there will be another Romaine scare. For some reason, there is a stigma that New Jersey lettuce is no good.”

    Last year’s outbreak and recall also affected Dragotta’s girlfriend, who was a lettuce farmer.

    “Part of the reason she went under was that she sold a lot of Romaine,” Dragotta stated. “The people she sold to did not pay her, and then, on top of that, they charged her to dispose of the unused lettuce.”

    The farmers and New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher are trying to get rid of the stigma.

    Fisher said the state has expanded its “Jersey Fresh” marketing on all of its platforms and highlighted the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program, a designation that the products with the “Jersey Fresh” logo have been inspected and meet the highest quality standards for produce.

    “People know that it has great visibility in this state and surrounding states,” Fisher said. “It has the same ranking in terms of the knowledge of its existence as other national brands. It is a confidence issue, and we know that people can buy with confidence.”

    (Left to right) Landisville Cooperative General Manager Felix Donato, Secretary Fisher, Ed Curcio of Twin State Farms, John Formisano of Formisano Farms and Buena Boro Council President Rosalie Baker each holding romaine lettuce and other varieties of Jersey Fresh leafy greens.

    Fisher, who was recently at the Landisville Cooperative to highlight the leafy green produce, reiterated this year’s crop of leafy green vegetable crops including Romaine lettuce, spinach, collards, chard, and parsley are all in an excellent, safe condition.

    U.S. Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-2nd District), who serves on the House of Representative’s Agriculture Committee, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC are working on localizing recalls through the Food Safety Modernization Act to minimize the impact to other regions.

    “We have to be safe, and we cannot endanger people’s health, but let’s find out where the outbreak originates as quickly and accurately as possible and not paint with a broad brush and just ban romaine lettuce in a giant geographic swath, telling people not to eat it because this does harm to farmer’s way of life.”

    Van Drew also said he is going to try to have a hearing to discuss some of the recalls.

    “A lot (of the other state’s outbreak issues are) due to irrigation practices. In New Jersey, there is a lot of crop irrigation with well water that is basically drinkable water. It is a whole lot different than using a retention pond to irrigate. I think we have to make sure in New Jersey that we let people know just how special our agriculture is. We have great crops in general, and our stuff is safe, clean, and healthy. It is managed carefully, and people have to know that.”


    Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak is over, CDC says

    (CNN) — “This outbreak appear to be over,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday of the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from some regions of Northern and Central California.

    In all, 62 people in 16 states became sick as a result of the outbreak. Twenty-five of them were hospitalized.

    Illnesses began in early October the most recent illness was reported to have begun with symptoms on December 4.

    The outbreak was first announced two days before Thanksgiving with a stark warning for consumers to stay away from all romaine lettuce while an investigation looked for the source of the bacteria.

    A week later, on November 26, as illnesses continued to be reported, federal health officials determined that the likely source of the outbreak was lettuce from “the Central Coastal growing regions of norther and central California.” Consumers were told that romaine from anywhere else, as indicated on a required label, could be sold and eaten.

    On December 6, the US Food and Drug Administration narrowed this down further to six California counties and said romaine from anywhere but the counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura was safe. However, the CDC maintained that “no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified” as the source of the outbreak.

    On December 13, the FDA and the CDC said the investigation identified the outbreak strain of E. coli in sediment from an agricultural water reservoir on a farm in Santa Barbara County, California.

    For this reason, the FDA announced that red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and cauliflower from Adam Bros. Farming Inc. in Santa Barbara County was recalled. Recalls were later issued for sandwiches and other products from Northwest Cuisine Creations and Fresh & Local because they were made with recalled lettuce or cauliflower. At the time, the CDC said the contaminated lettuce responsible for the illnesses “should no longer be available.”

    Since that time, only three new cases of E. coli illness linked to this outbreak have been reported, according to the CDC. ‘

    Canada reported 29 cases of E. coli linked to this outbreak. On December 24, Canadian officials determined the outbreak to be over there.

    This was the second E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce last year. The first was from March through June. Then, 210 people across 36 states became ill, and five died. It was linked to romaine grown in Yuma, Arizona.

    Lettuce is vulnerable to illness-causing bacteria such as E. coli because it is generally not cooked before consumption. When produce or other foods are cooked, E. coli can be killed by heat.


    CDC Recommends Blanket Ban on ALL Romaine Lettuce, E. coli Discovered Once Again - Recipes

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    US Officials: It’s OK To Eat Some Romaine, Look For Labels

    NEW YORK (CBSMiami/AP) &mdash The ban on romaine lettuce is beginning to ease up.

    It’s OK to eat some romaine lettuce again, U.S. health officials said. Just check the label.

    The Food and Drug Administration narrowed its blanket warning from last week, when it said people shouldn’t eat any romaine because of an E. coli outbreak. The agency said Monday the romaine linked to the outbreak appears to be from the California’s Central Coast region. It said romaine from elsewhere should soon be labeled with harvest dates and regions, so people know it’s OK to eat.

    People shouldn’t eat romaine that doesn’t have the label information, the FDA said. For romaine that doesn’t come in packaging, grocers and retailers are being asked to post the information by the register.

    Romaine harvesting recently began shifting from California’s Central Coast to winter growing areas, primarily Arizona, Florida, Mexico and California’s Imperial Valley. Those winter regions weren’t yet shipping when the illnesses began. The FDA also noted hydroponically grown romaine and romaine grown in greenhouses aren’t implicated in the outbreak.

    The labeling arrangement was worked out as the produce industry called on the FDA to quickly narrow the scope of its warning so it wouldn’t have to waste freshly harvested romaine. An industry group said people can expect to start seeing labels as early as this week. It noted the labels are voluntary, and that it will monitor whether to expand the measure to other leafy greens and produce.

    The FDA said the industry committed to making the labeling standard for romaine and to consider longer-term labeling options for other leafy greens.

    Robert Whitaker, chief science officer of the Produce Marketing Association, said labeling for romaine could help limit the scope of future alerts and rebuild public trust after other outbreaks.

    “Romaine as a category has had a year that’s been unfortunate,” Whitaker said.

    The FDA still hasn’t identified a source of contamination in the latest outbreak. There have been no reported deaths, but health officials say 43 people in 12 states have been sickened. Twenty-two people in Canada were also sickened.

    Even though romaine from the Yuma, Arizona, region is not implicated in the current outbreak, it was blamed for an E. coli outbreak this spring that sickened more than 200 people and killed five. Contaminated irrigation water near a cattle lot was later identified as the likely source.

    Leafy greens were also blamed for an E. coli outbreak last year. U.S. investigators never specified which salad green might be to blame for those illnesses, which happened around the same time of year as the current outbreak. But officials in Canada identified romaine as a common source of illnesses there.

    The produce industry is aware the problem is recurring, said Jennifer McEntire of the United Fresh Produce Association.

    “To have something repeat in this way, there simply must be some environmental source that persisted,” she said. “The question now is, can we find it?”

    Growers and handlers in the region tightened food safety measures after the outbreak this spring, the industry says. Steps include expanding buffer zones between cattle lots and produce fields. But McEntire said it’s not known for sure how the romaine became contaminated in the Yuma outbreak. Another possibility, she said, is that winds blew dust from the cattle lot onto produce.

    McEntire said the industry is considering multiple theories, including whether there is something about romaine that makes it more susceptible to contamination. Compared with iceberg lettuce, she noted its leaves are more open, thus exposing more surface area.

    Since romaine has a shelf life of about 21 days, health officials said last week they believed contaminated romaine could still be on the market or in people’s homes.

    Food poisoning outbreaks from leafy greens are not unusual. But after a 2006 outbreak linked to spinach, the produce industry took steps it believed would limit large scale outbreaks, said Timothy Lytton, a Georgia State University law professor. The outbreak linked to romaine earlier this year cast doubt on how effective the measures have been, he said.

    But Lytton also noted the inherent risk of produce, which is grown in open fields and eaten raw.

    (© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


    CDC: Don’t eat romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California

    NEW YORK -- U.S. health officials on Friday told people to avoid romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California, because of another food poisoning outbreak.

    The notice comes almost exactly one year after a similar outbreak led to a blanket warning about romaine.

    Officials urged Americans not to eat the leafy green if the label doesn’t say where it was grown. They also urged supermarkets and restaurants not to serve or sell the lettuce, unless they’re sure it was grown elsewhere.

    The warning applies to all types of romaine from the Salinas region, include whole heads, hearts and pre-cut salad mixes.

    “We’re concerned this romaine could be in other products,” said Laura Gieraltowski, lead investigator of the outbreak at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Officials said their investigation led to farms in Salinas and that they are looking for the source of E. coli tied to the illnesses. Salinas is a major growing region for romaine from around April to this time of year, when growing shifts south to Yuma, Arizona.

    After last year’s pre-Thanksgiving outbreak tied to romaine, the produce industry agreed to voluntarily label the lettuce with harvest regions. Health officials said that would make it easier to trace romaine and issue more specific public health warnings when outbreaks happen.

    Officials never identified exactly how romaine might have become contaminated in past outbreaks. But another outbreak in spring 2018 that sickened more than 200 people and killed five was traced to tainted irrigation water near a cattle lot. (E. coli is found in the feces of animal like cows.)

    It’s not clear exactly why romaine keeps popping up in outbreaks, but food safety experts note the popularity of romaine lettuce and the difficulty of eliminating riskਏor produce grown in open fields and eaten raw.

    Industry groups noted that they tightened safety measures following last year’s outbreaks, including expanding buffer zones between growing fields and livestock.

    “It’s very, very disturbing. Very frustrating all around,” said Trevor Suslow of the Produce Marketing Association.

    The CDC says 40 people have been reported sick so far in 16 states, including Washington. The most recent reported illness started on Nov. 10. The agency says it’s the same E. coli strain tied to previous outbreaks, including the one from last Thanksgiving.

    The CDC’s Gieraltowski said that suggests there’s a persisting contamination source in the environment.


    Romaine lettuce packs recalled over E. coli fear

    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned on Thursday about bagged salad products from Ready Pac Food Inc. containing romaine lettuce that is possibly contaminated with E. coli.

    The voluntarily recalled romaine lettuce is packaged in 9 oz., 9.25 oz., 10 oz., 10.25 oz., and 16 oz. bags under the Ready Pac, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Dining In Classic labels. Products have a Use by Date of November 18, 2011.

    The recall was initiated after USDA testers discovered some contamination of the product.

    A list of affected products and photos are available here.

    The recalled products were distributed to retail locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

    WebMD writes that symptoms of E. coli infections include bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

    Trending News

    "Some people do not notice any symptoms. Children are more likely than adults to have symptoms. Symptoms usually start 3 or 4 days after you come in contact with the E. coli. Most people get better in about a week. They often don't see a doctor and don't know that E. coli caused their problems," WebMd writes.

    Thus far, no illnesses have been associated with the recalled romaine lettuce.

    The CDPH recommends consumers discard the product or return them to the place of purchase.

    Consumers that observe the product being offered for sale are encouraged to report their findings to the CDPH toll free complaint line at (800) 495-3232.