Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Health Care | By Alice Shelton

Romaine lettuce linked to fatal E.Coli outbreak

Thorough cooking usually kills foodborne bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella, but lettuce is not usually cooked.

Over the past seven weeks, at least 58 people in the United States and Canada have been sickened and two died from a unsafe strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, likely from romaine lettuce.

According to Consumer Reports, the unsafe bacteria has sent five to the hospital and killed one person in America. The bacteria can also spread between humans if a person carrying the bacteria doesn't wash his or her hands upon using the restroom.

Consumers in the affected states, which include California, New York and Washington, are being advised to avoid Romaine lettuce by consumer watchdog Consumer Reports.

A multistate E. coli outbreak has food safety experts warning consumers to avoid Romaine lettuce for the time being, as it is said to be the likely cause of the food poisoning. The 17 USA cases were reported beginning November 15 to December 8, while Canada had 41 cases.

The consumer advocacy group believes US health officials should be sending a stronger message to stay away from the popular salad green as they investigate the string of illnesses.

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"CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among sick people, including leafy greens and romaine".

CDC officials have said that because they have not identified a source they are unable to recommend whether residents should avoid a particular food. Meanwhile, American officials investigating the food safety outbreak have not gone so far with a recommendation. "If so, and people aren't warned, more may get sick". This is the same type of E. coli that is responsible for the current outbreak in the United States and Canada.

Consumer Reports said people should err on the side of caution and throw out romaine lettuce.

Contracting E. coli infection can lead to stroke, kidney failure, seizures and in rare instances, death.

"Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and HUS than others, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill", the CDC advises.

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