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Unsafe Romaine Lettuce

  • November 21, 2018
  • KBA Attorneys
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Romaine lettuce has been declared unsafe for human consumption by health officials because of an E. coli outbreak that is affecting the U.S and Canada. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with Canadian health officials to identify where it originated; however, it seems that it’s similar to the outbreak from last year which also affected leafy green foods.

The FDA has encouraged restaurants and grocery stores to pull romaine lettuce out of their offerings for the time being to stop the spread of E. coli. Unfortunately, there is not enough information to ask suppliers for a recall, so this temporary pull of romaine lettuce from shelves should help to stop the spread. The FDA is also encouraging those who have romaine lettuce at home to throw it out and avoid direct contact with it. The main idea to is to eradicate any trace of the outbreak by getting rid of most of the romaine lettuce circulating around the market, as it is still being actively sold.

Romaine lettuce that is being sold around this time of year is usually grown within California. The outbreak from the previous year was traced back to Yuma, Arizona where tainted irrigation water seemed to have been the cause. The last outbreak sickened roughly 200 people and killed a total of 5. The current outbreak has affected 32 people across 11 states in the U.S. and 18 people in Canada, specifically in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Luckily for Canadians, it seems that the outbreak has only been seen in those two provinces and there is no evidence to suggest that it will affect other provinces across the country.

The FDA’s warning has led to industry groups advising suppliers to stop selling romaine lettuce for the time being, or at least until the outbreak is contained. This was advisable because people have been told in mass that they should not be buying or eating it, so ultimately it will be better to stop supplying it altogether. The last reported hospitalization in the U.S. was at the end of October, so it seems that the outbreak is slowing down, however, because produce is hard to trace back, the FDA still maintains its warning to the public.

Throwing out any romaine lettuce is essential, as E. coli is not something that can be washed or cooked off of the produce. Considering that produce is usually packaged by middlemen, the entire industry falls under scrutiny when outbreaks like this happen because it’s incredibly difficult to find out where it all originated. E. coli is a painful infection because it leads to severe cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. Most are lucky enough to get over the sickness after about a week, but others can be affected for longer and can even cause a hospital visit or worse if not treated properly.

If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with having an E. coli infection, or you suspect that E. coli is the cause for some pain, make sure that you contact a doctor first to figure out your next steps in being treated. If you suspect that this E. coli infection comes from the negligence of a restaurant or grocery store, make sure to contact KBA Attorneys. With years of experience in the industry, we will make sure that any failure to comply with the FDA’s warning or negligence on their part is uncovered and that justice is served.