Federal officials on Friday expanded warnings resulting from an ongoing E. coli investigation saying restaurants and retailers should not sell any romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Ariz.
As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 53 people in 16 states sickened by the outbreak between March 13 and April 6. No deaths have been reported, but 31 have been hospitalized.
Initially, the outbreak was tied only to chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma. Now the CDC is recommending that restaurants and retailers throw away all romaine grown in Yuma, including whole heads and hearts of romaine and any salad mixes containing romaine. In addition, the agency recommends throwing out any romaine if the growing region is not known.
Much of the nation’s romaine is grown in Arizona during the winter season, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a Tweet on Monday said the growing season is ending in Yuma. It’s likely that any romaine sold currently is from California.
California lettuce is not believed to be tied to this outbreak.
Officials have yet to determine the specific source of the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, but the largest number of reported illnesses is in Pennsylvania, where 12 people have fallen ill, followed by Idaho (10), New Jersey (7) and Montana (6).
There have been three cases reported in Arizona, two each in New York, Ohio, Connecticut and Michigan, and single cases in Alaska, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Virginia and Washington state.
The CDC recommends that restaurants and foodservice operators wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where contaminated product may have been stored, as well as cutting boards, surfaces and utensils.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout