Medicine

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

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

Cara Operations Ltd., which operates Swiss Chalet, Milestones Grill + Bar, Montana's Cookhouse, Kelsey's, East Side Mario's and other chains, has instructed certain locations to stop using romaine lettuce.

According to the CDC, five people in the USA have been hospitalized and one has died.

A Canadian and multistate U.S. E. coli 051:H7 outbreak has led Consumer Reports (and the Canadian government) to urge consumers to not eat romaine.

So far 17 illnesses have been reported in the United States, including three in California, according to the CDC. Infections in the USA have reportedly taken place in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state. The agency says state and local health officials are interviewing those who have gotten sick to find out if there is a common source of the bacteria.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has advised people living in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to consider avoiding romaine lettuce until more is known about the outbreak and its cause.

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One person in each country has died.

Although anyone can get an E. coli infection, pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications.

"[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.

"If they want to consume romaine lettuce, paying particular attention to the really thorough washing would be important", she said.

Neither the US nor Canadian health officials have provided information on where the suspect romaine lettuce was grown or processed. But it's still a good idea to avoid the leafy green for now, whether it's sold fresh or in pre-packaged salad mixes.


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