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With the new year inviting all of those health-conscious resolutions, odds are many people have been chowing down on salads this week. And while a nice, big bowl of greens would normally be a great choice, right now you might want to rethink your menu choice.
According to food safety experts at Consumer Reports, a consumer-advocacy group, everyone in the U.S. and Canada should avoid eating any new or previously purchased romaine lettuce. This includes any pre-packaged lettuce, open-air lettuce or salad mixes and blends that contain romaine lettuce. Restaurants and other food service establishments are also being advised to stop using romaine lettuce immediately.
The new report warns that an outbreak of E. coli among 58 people over the past seven weeks in the U.S. and Canada has been traced backed to romaine lettuce by Canadian health officials. The outbreak of E. coli, a bacteria that can cause serious complications and even lead to death, has infected individuals in 13 U.S. states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington state).
Within those 13 states, five people have been hospitalized and one death has been reported so far. In Canada, one person has also died as a result of the infection. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t officially recommended that consumers avoid romaine lettuce yet, health officials in Canada have advised their eastern providence residents to use other salad greens at the moment. Despite the fact that the U.S. hasn’t issued an official ban on the lettuce yet, an expert with Consumer Reports points out that lettuce in general carries a high risk of infection-causing bacteria like E. coli because it is eaten raw instead of cooked. And although washing your produce is always a good idea, rinsing lettuce does not necessarily remove E. coli if it is present.
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