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Stay Away From All Forms of Romaine Lettuce, CDC Warns

April 21, 2018, 1:28 PM UTC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning customers to stay away from all forms of romaine lettuce, as the scope of its investigation into an E. coli outbreak grows.

The CDC had originally traced the outbreak — which has sickened at least 53 people across 16 states — specifically to chopped romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Ariz., region. An update issued on Friday, however, says customers should also avoid whole heads and hearts of romaine, in addition to chopped lettuce, unless they can determine that it was not grown in Yuma.

Since no single grower, brand, or distributor has been implicated in the outbreak, consumers should also dispose of any store-bought romaine lettuce they already have at home, the advisory says.

Eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by E. coli bacteria may cause gastrointestinal distress. More serious infections may lead to complications including a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the CDC. Of the 31 people who have been hospitalized from the romaine lettuce outbreak, five had this complication. Zero deaths have been reported.

The new update is based on newly reported illnesses in Alaska, where individuals had eaten whole romaine lettuce. These illnesses were not included in the CDC’s case count, and will be included in the next update, the agency says. The investigation is ongoing.