The number of confirmed E. coli cases linked to chopped romaine lettuce keeps growing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since March 13, around 53 people have been reported sick in 16 states. Thirty-one of the patients have been hospitalized, with five having developed a kind of kidney failure associated with an E. coli sickness known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be incredibly dangerous, CNN reports.
On a positive note, no deaths have been reported. The higher rates of E. coli infection have been in Idaho, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Montana. There have been reported cases in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Virginia and Washington.
Health authorities issued a warning for residents and restaurants regarding chopped romaine lettuce grown in Arizona area last week. An investigation into the outbreak is ongoing, and officials have not yet found a single brand, supplier, distributor or grower as the main source of the contamination.
The CDC said,
Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten.
Fresh Foods Manufacturing Co. in Pennsylvania issued a voluntary recall of their ready-to-eat salads packed in clear plastic containers due to potential contamination. The US Department of Agriculture said, “Fresh Foods Manufacturing Co., received notification from their romaine lettuce supplier that the romaine lettuce used by the establishment in the products was being recalled due to E. coli O157:H7 concerns. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.”
The CDC continues to warn consumers, saying, “Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.”