Put Down the Salad!
Romaine lettuce is believed to be the source of serious illness across the United States. Over the past several weeks, 59 people in the U.S. and Canada have fallen ill from a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria, likely from romaine lettuce. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are investigating reports of the illness possibly linked to romaine lettuce or other leafy greens, according to a statement issued by the CDC.
“E. coli is dangerous, especially in young children, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system. That’s why we suggest taking precaution,” says Ellsworth Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent health insurance agency.
Because the investigation is ongoing, the CDC is not yet recommending that consumers should avoid the food. However, Consumer Reports food safety experts and doctors feel there is enough evidence to avoid romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified. Experts also advise avoiding salad blends and salad mixes containing romaine. Washing leafy greens and vegetables will not protect against E. coli.
This strain of E. coli (0157:H7) produces a toxin that can lead to serious illness, kidney failure and even death. Symptoms of the infection include: severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Some may experience a slight fever.
Interestingly, a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the FDA is taking too long to remove contaminated food from shelves. The report states, “The FDA did not always have an efficient and effective food-recall process that ensured the safety of the Nation’s food supply.” Federal investigators reviewed 30 of 1,557 food recalls between 2012 and 2015. The investigation shows it took an average of 57 days to recall items after the FDA was informed of the possible threat.