The government has issued an official warning in Canada that residents should avoid eating romaine lettuce because of a serious outbreak of E. coli affecting the leaves. Officials have not specified a brand or supplier involved, meaning that all romaine lettuce is at risk.
Thus far, at least one person has died from the outbreak, with 16 more hospitalized and 40 total reported sick. Experts infer that additional victims are likely to be identified due to a delay in government warnings.
Despite the outbreak, no retailers or distributors have issued a lettuce recall as of yet. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, “There appears to be an ongoing risk of E. coli infections associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce.”
That means the contaminated leaves could still be sitting on shelves or in consumers’ homes. Even restaurants are at risk of serving E. coli-infected vegetables.
Based on existing supply patterns, experts believe the outbreak has originated in produce shipped from the United States or Mexico. However, the source is still entirely unclear.
Canadian consumers are advised to throw away their recently purchased romaine and seek medical attention if they have already eaten the purchased lettuce. While dining out, it’s best to avoid ordering dishes made with romaine — and above all, please romaine calm.
While romaine lettuce remains off-limits, spinach and other leafy greens are still on the table. Try incorporating them, instead of the tainted crop, into your best salad recipes.