Target & Walmart Lettuce Hit By Nationwide E. Coli Outbreak

A new Thanksgiving tradition appears to be forming in the United States: a massive recalling of lettuce. 

After last year’s untimely recall of the entire nation’s supply of romaine lettuce, the same appears to be happening again this year. There has been a recall of romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, CA due to its carrying of E. coli.

The CDC first announced the outbreak on Friday, and repercussions have continued to show themselves throughout the weekend. As reported by Fox 11 Los Angeles, some of the nation’s biggest retailers have been clearing their shelves of all romaine lettuce originating from the central valley city. Target recently joined other mega-chains such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Aldi, and Wegman’s in doing so.

However, before any store could act, there had already been 40 related cases reported in 16 different states, 28 of which have led to hospitalizations, and 5 of which have resulted in kidney failure. Luckily, though, no deaths have been reported in relation to the outbreak. 

The CDC suggests to throw away any remaining romaine lettuce whose packaging says it either originates in Salinas or has no mention of growing location.

Better to play it safe than introduce an E. Coli outbreak to the family.

Unfortunately, it looks like there won’t be any salad to slowly wilt away as everyone ignores it at this year’s Thanksgiving. But, on the bright side, that’s one less dish to worry about. 

Health Recalls

A ‘Do Not Eat Romaine Lettuce’ Advisory Was Just Issued For The THIRD Time This Year

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.

Grocery Health News Packaged Food

Recent E. Coli Outbreak In Romaine Lettuce Is One Of The Worst In US History

Over the past few months, the romaine lettuce industry out in Yuma, Arizona has been weathering a severe E. Coli outbreak. While the immediate threat of food poisoning for consumers no longer exists, the newest numbers of who were affected by the CDC make it one of the worst in history.

e. coli outbreak

Based on the CDC’s latest report, at least 197 people fell ill across 35 states due to E. Coli O157:H7 found in the romaine. Of that number, 89 were hospitalized and 5 deaths were reported. At least 6 illnesses and another death linked to the same lettuce were also reported from Canada.

The spread and count of those infected is on par with the big spinach E. Coli O157:H7 scare that occurred in 2006. Considered to be the worst outbreak of its kind in modern US history, 238 illnesses were reported, with 103 hospitalized and 5 deaths.

Another similar massive food poisoning outburst with E. Coli O157:H7 occurred with Jack in the Box in early 90s, where over 700 got sick and 3 died.

This year’s romaine lettuce outbreak mirrors those numbers, giving it an unfortunate place as one of the worst and deadliest E. coli outbreaks in US history.

E. Coli O157:H7 is a special strain of the bacteria that produces a toxin that can induce something called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. This disease can lead to kidney failure, has a 5 percent mortality rate. 26 of those affected by the romaine poisonings developed this condition.

What’s concerning for the food industry is that E. Coli outbreaks have been reported in fresh produce. Beef is the normal item of concern with this bacteria, and proper heat treatment can kill off sufficient amounts to prevent food poisoning. Since lettuce isn’t typically heat-treated, though, the microbes can easily grow and induce toxicity.

There are some “cold pasteurization” methods that the industry does have that can potentially treat lettuce. One of those is irradiation, a food-safe burst of radiation that is already approved for usage in spinach and iceberg lettuce. Potential usage in romaine is unlikely, however, given that the dosage can produce some softening and ruin the lettuce’s texture. Consumers are also very against any form of radiation on their foods, meaning that even if romaine could be irradiated, it likely would not be bought.

Another potential technique the industry has in its arsenal is pulsed electric field treatments. Intermittent, quick blasts of electricity are used to kill or inactivate microbes without heating up the food significantly. It works well in liquids, but research on solid foods like romaine is still scant.

Hopefully, science can figure out how to use these or other methods to get rid of pathogenic E. coli on our produce. For now, though, we can breathe easy, as all of the romaine that may have been contaminated in this outbreak is long gone.


Pic of the Day: Ginger Steak Salad

Not everything we post has to be unhealthy right? Heres something that I personally love. (Thx Pioneer Woman)