Consumer Reports is urging people to avoid romaine lettuce until further notice after authorities identified the vegetable as the source of an E. coli outbreak. According to the Jan. 3 report, more than 50 people have gotten sick in the US and Canada likely as a result of an E. coli bacteria strain linked to romaine lettuce, and there have also been two reported deaths so far. Yikes! It’s worth noting that it’s currently unclear whether the outbreak is tied to a particular brand or producer of romaine or rather to the leafy green in general. If romaine is your go-to salad green, it’s best to add some spinach or arugula to your shopping cart instead for now.
Health authorities tracked down romaine lettuce in Canada as the source of the E. coli outbreak, and US officials are also taking caution. “Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the US, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw,” James Rogers, director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports, said in a statement. Infections in the US have reportedly taken place in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state.
Possible causes for raw fruits and vegetables to be contaminated with E. coli include soil that has been contaminated with feces from affected animals, contaminated water, or improperly composted manure that has come in contact with the produce. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to widespread food recalls or bacterial outbreaks, because it’s no fun to get sick from something as innocent as a salad or a lettuce wrap.