Don't eat this lettuce, says Consumer Reports after E. coli outbreak

Brandon Parsons
January 5, 2018

A new warning has been issued by Consumer Reports to avoid romaine lettuce while USA and Canadian health officials continue their investigation after 58 people were reported sick from E. coli infections, NBC News reported.

In the US, infections span across 13 states from California to New Hampshire.

Fifty-eight people in the US and Canada have gotten sick from the bacteria in the last few weeks, and one person in each country has died.

Authorities in Canada are also investigating an outbreak of E. coli infections in some of its provinces, the CDC said. In sad news for those of us looking to make January a month of fresh greens, in response to the indulgence of the holidays, Consumer Reports is now advising that we avoid eating romaine lettuce after an E. coli outbreak has been linked to at least two deaths. In the United States, the illness has occurred in 13 states, including California. The most unsafe effect is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

Ian Williams, PhD, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, told CIDRAP News that the last illness onset was Dec 8, and though cases are still being reported, the pace of new reports appears to be slowing.

The U.S. agency said the Food and Drug Administration and several state were also involved in the probe.

Meanwhile in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on Dec 28 reported one more case, raising the outbreak total to 41 cases in five eastern provinces.

"This strain of E. coli causes more outbreaks than all other strains combined, so it's the big problem", said Herb Schellhorn, a microbiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, who specializes in the study of E. coli and other water- and food-borne pathogens. The available data strongly suggest that romaine lettuce is the source of the US outbreak. "If so, and people aren't warned, more may get sick".

"[To] say 'avoid romaine for now, ' I don't know if I have enough information to agree with that statement", said Benjamin Chapman, an associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University.

Young children, elderly people, and those with a weakened immune system from a condition such as cancer or diabetes face the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill from E. coli.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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