The CDC and FDA are advising people to avoid romaine lettuce entirely until further notice, as an ongoing E. coli outbreak linked to the lettuce has expanded to 16 states and sickened at least 53 people so far.
“Based on new information, CDC is expanding its warning to consumers to cover all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. This warning now includes whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, in addition to chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine,” the CDC said in a statement on Friday, April 20.
According to the CDC, the E. coli-affected lettuce has been linked to the Yuma, Arizona, growing region, but so far no individual grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified. The CDC advises everybody to avoid buying or eating romaine lettuce from a grocery store or restaurant unless the romaine is known to not be from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region.
Previously, the warning about E. coli contamination on romaine lettuce warned people to avoid bagged or chopped lettuce, but according to the FDA, last week officials in Alaska announced that eight people in a correctional facility were infected with E. coli after eating whole-head romaine lettuce. Now the FDA has expanded its recommendation and advises avoiding romaine entirely, unless the source of the product can be confirmed.
“Based on this new information, the FDA is advising that consumers avoid all romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona. If you cannot determine the source of your romaine lettuce, throw it away and don't eat it,” the FDA said in a statement.
E. coli bacteria on romaine lettuce has so far infected 53 people in 16 different states, including Alaska. 31 people have reportedly been hospitalized, and five of those reportedly developed a potentially life-threatening type of kidney failure. So far, no deaths have been reported. Until further notice, the CDC and FDA are advising people to avoid romaine lettuce. This is not the first time romaine has been linked to a foodborne illness outbreak, and leafy greens like it are one of the foods most likely to cause food poisoning.