On Friday afternoon, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded it's warning to consumers to cover all types of romaine lettuce, now including whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, in addition to chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine. A previous warning was limited to chopped forms of romaine, including salads and salad mixes.
The CDC's new warning also includes newly confirmed cases of E. Coli infections, and it's much more rigid about its language regarding eating romaine lettuce no matter where you are in the United States.
No deaths have been reported.
While the current cases are connected to the Yuma, Arizona, area, the CDC warns that package labels do not often identify growing regions. Even if someone has already eaten some and not gotten sick, the lettuce should still be thrown away to be on the safe side, as USA Today notes.
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States that have reported people infected with the E. coli strain now include Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, Arizona, Alaska, California, Louisiana and Montana. Women seem to be the most vulnerable to this infection, as 70 percent of cases reported are female patients. Symptoms may be mild to severe, including diarrhea which may be bloody.
The agency said the outbreak started in the Yuma, Arizona, region, but the supplier or distributor has yet to be determined. Other times, it is taken to a central processing plant, where it is packed under different brands before being sent to retailers, according to Bill Marler, a Seattle-based personal injury attorney who focuses on food-borne illness litigation and is representing several people sickened in the outbreak.
The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads.
For the second time since January, it's time to throw out all the romaine lettuce after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported it could be tainted with E. coli. Thankfully, thus far nobody has died from the outbreak, but the CDC isnt taking any chances, and has some very specific advice for everyone.