For the third time in the last 12 months, a “Do Not Eat” advisory for romaine lettuce has been issued. Like the last two times, the reason behind the advisory and ensuing recalls is the contamination of the produce with E. Coli O157:H7.
According to a joint press release from the FDA and CDC, the strain of E. Coli involved in this outbreak is similar to the one that infected customers in the US and Canada last winter, but not the same as the massive romaine lettuce recall from the Yuma, Arizona region this past summer. They have yet to identify the source of the current outbreak, however.
So far, 32 people across 11 states have fallen ill, with 13 of those requiring hospitalization.
E. Coli O157:H7 infections exhibit symptoms like vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and stomach pains. It can also result in the development of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a condition that can lead to kidney failure and requires extensive treatment.
For now, the FDA and CDC are urging consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce of all kinds and to toss out any present in the fridges. Manufacturers are also encouraged to recall all romaine products to prevent any more lettuce from getting out.
The fact that this is the third such recall to happen to the same vegetable in the past year is alarming, particularly when each one has required a “Do Not Eat” advisory. Consumer Reports issued the first one last year, while the CDC and FDA have issued the past two.