Everything You Need to Know About the Romaine Recall

A food safety expert shares what we need to know about the recent romaine lettuce outbreak.

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Photo by: mustafagull

mustafagull

A major outbreak of Romaine lettuce has hit 19 states and sickened over 84 people. Here’s everything you need to know about where to buy your lettuce, and how to know if the lettuce in your fridge is at risk of being contaminated.

The FDA is actively investigating a multistate outbreak of E. Coli 0157:H7. Between March 13, 2018 and April 12, 2018 96-percent of the people interviewed reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. As such, the FDA says that the outbreak is likely linked to chopped romaine lettuce sources from Yuma, Arizona. The restaurants being questioned said they use chopped romaine lettuce. At this time, no deaths have been reported, however, 42 people have been hospitalized and 9 developed a type of kidney failure which may occur with E. Coli called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

How Can You Tell If You Have E. Coli?

Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) E. Coli infection tends to have symptoms such as severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. Most folks recuperate within 5 to 7 days, however, around 5 to 10-percent of those diagnosed with STEC infection develop a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, decreased frequency of urination, small bruises or bleeding, and paleness. Although most folks with HUS recover within a few weeks, it is deadly. Those at highest risk of contracting STEC include older adults over the age of 65 years, young children under the age of 5, and folks with an already weakened immune system. If you think you may have been affected, see your doctor immediately.

Should You Buy Romaine Lettuce?

In order to keep you and your family safe, the FDA recommends taking the following steps:

  • Ask supermarkets and other retailers that sell romaine lettuce where it was sourced. Do not eat or buy lettuce from Yuma, Arizona.
  • If you have romaine lettuce or romaine lettuce products, including bagged salads, whole heads, hearts, salad mixes or prepared salads, and are unsure of where they were sourced, toss them.
  • Always practice good food handling practices in your kitchen. Wash your hands before and after handling. Also, wash all utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
  • If you think your refrigerator or surfaces have come in contact with contaminated lettuce, thoroughly clean all the areas and any utensils used. Wash the inside walls and shelves of the fridge, cutting boards and countertops, and then sanitize with a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of hot water. Dry all surfaces with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not previously been used.

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