Second E-Coli Outbreak This Year Sickens 50, Kills None

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning two days before Thanksgiving about a recent E. coli outbreak affecting romaine lettuce. This outbreak, the second one this year related to romaine lettuce, has sickened 32 people in the United States and 18 in Canada and has so far not caused any deaths. 67% of those affected were women, and ten out of the 32 reported US cases are Californians.

While many at the CDC waited to determine where the lettuce came from, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement yesterday afternoon saying that based on the patterns and a smaller outbreak last year, he estimates that the contaminated lettuce came from a supplier in California. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC warn that Americans should refrain from eating all romaine lettuce, as there’s no way to tell exactly where your salad came from. In a tweet on Friday, Commissioner Gottlieb stressed the need for new regulations about labeling where produce comes from to reduce confusion during outbreaks like these.

In an interview with NBC News, the head of the FDA response team, Dr. Laura Gieraltowski, had speculations about if romaine is likely to be more contaminated than other types of vegetables. She said, “It could have to do with the way the lettuce is shaped. [A head of] romaine lettuce is kind of open and maybe contaminated water can get into it more than into a head of iceberg lettuce or cabbage that is in a ball.” While nothing is for sure right now, it’s best just to avoid romaine lettuce altogether until the outbreak is finally over.

Have any questions about what to do in a food contamination situation like this one? Want more information about food safety? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


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