"Consumer Reports' experts believe that it could be hard for consumers to determine where the romaine they purchase is from, which is why they believe it's best to avoid the lettuce altogether", Consumer Reports said in a release. The outbreak is the same potentially deadly strain of E. coli, 0157:H7, that occurred late a year ago in the USA and Canada, but the CDC does not believe it is connected with the earlier outbreak. Although none of the confirmed E. coli cases have yet been linked to Fresh Foods, the company is concerned that its romaine supplier may have been involved in the outbreak.
The outbreak has sickened at least 35 people in 11 states, including 22 people who were hospitalized due to severe food poisoning.
The outbreak resulted in almost 36 people becoming ill to varying degrees, including 11 in Washington state. Most people recover in five to seven days. However, illnesses can start anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure. "If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away". "FDA should just advise consumers to avoid romaine lettuce until further notice".
Preliminary information collected by FDA, in conjunction with federal, state, and local partners, indicates that the chopped romaine lettuce that ill people ate was likely grown or originated from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona.
The advice is based on interviews with 28 of the ill individuals in which 93% of them reported consuming romaine lettuce within the week they began feeling sick.
"Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region".
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2012 California farmers contributed the following amounts of leafy green product to the USA supply including 77% of romaine lettuce, 71% of iceberg lettuce and 66% of spinach. Cases of illness showing E. coli symptoms have been reported in Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
The CDC reports that this investigation remains active, and that it will provide an update when it can. At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified. Three of those patients have a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is often associated with the O157:H7 E.coli strain. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads.