The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday that romaine lettuce is unsafe to eat in any form, during a food safety alert regarding a new outbreak of illnesses, due to a particularly dangerous type of E. coli bacteria. The CDC told consumers to dispose of any romaine lettuce they may have already purchased, while restaurants should refrain from serving it, grocery stores shouldn’t sell it and, of course, people should not purchase it – Despite where it was grown, if it was chopped, whole head or part of a mix.
“Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick,” the CDC said in the Food Safety Alert issued Tuesday afternoon.
“This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad,” the CDC said. “If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.”
This rare broad warning, which was issued two days shy of Americans sitting down to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners, now leaves uncertainties about the origin and extent of the bacterial contamination. The Washington Post reports that the CDC is not claiming all romaine lettuce contains this dangerous bacteria, however, investigators still are unaware of precisely where, when or how the contamination happened.
The CDC reports 32 people in 11 states became sick from eating contaminated romaine. Of those affected, 13 have been hospitalized, while one patient unfortunately suffered from a form of kidney failure. The Public Health Agency of Canada also reported that 10 people are infected with the same strain of E. coli. In Ontario and Quebec.
In addition, the CDC advises consumers to thoroughly wash and sanitize refrigerator drawers and shelves where any lettuce was potentially stored. According to the CDC, consumers typically fall ill within three or four days of eating lettuce contaminated with E. coli.