CDC warns against eating all romaine lettuce after multistate E. coli outbreak

31 people hospitalized across 16 states

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Public health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are telling consumers to avoid eating all types of romaine lettuce after a multistate outbreak of E. coli infections was linked to the vegetable grown around Yuma, Arizona.

More than 50 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in 16 states, according to the CDC. More than 30 of those cases have led to hospitalization. Several patients have suffered from kidney failure due to the infection, public health officials said.

Last week, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were working to determine the source of the outbreak. On Friday, officials with the CDC said the infection was linked to romaine lettuce from the growing region of Yuma, Arizona, region.

“Do not buy or eat romaine lettuce at a grocery store or restaurant unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region,” the release from the CDC on Friday read.

No common grower, supplier or distributor has been identified as the main source of the outbreak, only the region around Yuma.

A CDC map of the E. coli outbreak
A CDC map of the E. coli outbreak

The federal agency said unless consumers can verify their lettuce at home was not grown in Yuma, Arizona, they should throw it away and warned that product labels often don’t identify where the vegetable was grown.

The CDC also warned restaurants and retailers not to sell items with romaine lettuce.

Symptoms of E. coli typically begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria. They include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people recover in five to seven days. Some individuals may develop a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening, although most people recover in a few weeks. Those most at risk for E. coli illness are the very young, the very old and individuals with compromised immune systems.

More symptom and consumer advice is available at CDC.gov.

Patients with the infection have been reported in Alaska, California, Arizona, Washington State and in states from the Midwest to the Northeast. U.S. Idaho and Pennsylvania have the most cases with more than 10 each. 

No cases have been reported in Florida as of Friday.

About the Author: