Published: Sat, November 24, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

E. coli outbreak: Romaine lettuce probed in U.S. and Canada

E. coli outbreak: Romaine lettuce probed in U.S. and Canada

Symptoms of an E. coli infection vary from person to person, but most often include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes a mild fever.

According to the CDC, a total of 32 people have been impacted by an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157.H7 strain.

"CDC is advising that consumers do not eat any romaine lettuce because no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified", the CDC alert stated. Of those, 13 have been hospitalized, with one patient suffering from a form of kidney failure.

That includes all types of romaine lettuce, including whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags or boxes of pre-cut lettuce.

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Tracing the source of contaminated lettuce can be hard because it's often repackaged by middlemen, said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. But officials say anyone who has any type of romaine lettuce in at home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was already eaten and no one has gotten sick. No deaths have been reported, it said.

"A traceback investigation" is underway to find the source of the romaine lettuce consumed by people who became ill", the agency said.

Health officials in Canada said they had also identified 18 people stricken with the same strain of food poisoning in two provinces, Ontario and Quebec. However, this latest issue doesn't have any relation to the E. coli romaine outbreak that took place earlier this year in the US.

Preventing foodborne illness in the United States is the job of the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which oversees the meat, poultry and processed egg supply, and the FDA, responsible for domestic and imported foods. Most people get better within 5 to 7 days.

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