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US, Canada investigating possible E. coli link to romaine lettuce

07 January 2018

People should avoid eating romaine lettuce amid an outbreak of a risky strain of E. coli bacteria that has sickened 58 people in the U.S. - including NY - and Canada, according to Consumer Reports.

According to Consumer Reports, this strain of E. coli has a toxin that could lead to serious illness, kidney failure and even death in some cases.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is also investigating has reported 41 illnesses and has identified romaine lettuce as the cause of the illnesses.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that romaine lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", according to James Rogers, Ph.D, who is CR's director of food safety and research.

Consumer Reports adds the source of the E. coli food poisoning is being investigated by FDA and CDC, along with public health officials in Canada. Fruits and vegetables can become contaminated with E. coli when they come into contact with feces from infected animals, or with bacteria from raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Check your fridge for any romaine lettuce, including any bagged salad mixes or blends.

"[To] say 'avoid romaine for now, ' I don't know if I have enough information to agree with that statement", said Benjamin Chapman, an associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University.

Typically romaine lettuce is good for you, but Consumer Reports are warning Pennsylvanians to avoid the greens for now.

Seventeen illnesses, which occurred between November 15 and December 8, 2017, were reported in all.

Chapman suspects that officials will make an announcement soon about whether the USA and Canadian outbreaks are indeed the same.

US, Canada investigating possible E. coli link to romaine lettuce