Food Safety Magazine

News | May 10, 2018

Number of States Affected by Romaine Lettuce Outbreak Eclipses 2006 Spinach Outbreak Record

By Staff

Number of States Affected by Romaine Lettuce Outbreak Eclipses 2006 Spinach Outbreak Record

On May 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared its latest update on the romaine lettuce outbreak, adding additional victims and states to the existing list.

To date, the case count has risen to 149 sick individuals in 29 states. Sixty-four people have been hospitalized and one person in California has died. No recalls have been issued in direct connection to the Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak.

This current outbreak has officially outpaced that of the 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to fresh spinach. That outbreak led to three deaths and sickened 199 people in 26 states, according to CDC’s final update dated October 6, 2006. Thus far, the current romaine lettuce outbreak has affected 29 states. 

As previously reported, data indicates that the contaminated romaine lettuce originated from the Yuma, AZ, growing region. Also, the outbreak that has taken place in an Alaska correctional facility has been linked to Yuma-based Harrison Farms. However, FDA has not associated that farm with the rest of the multistate outbreak affecting 28 other states.

CDC believes that the outbreak may continue because of the time between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported to CDC.

Consumers are still being advised not to eat or buy romaine lettuce unless you can confirm that it did not come from the Yuma growing region. Restaurants and retailers are also instructed not to sell or serve romaine lettuce, and to check with their suppliers regarding where their romaine lettuce is sourced. CDC’s warning applies to whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you are unsure what type of lettuce is in your possession, it is best to throw it away.

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