The FDA, along with CDC, state and local agencies, are investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses likely linked to romaine lettuce. The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating a similar outbreak in Canada.
Genetic analysis of the E. coli O157:H7 strains tested to date from patients in this current outbreak are similar to strains of E. coli O157:H7 associated with a previous outbreak from the Fall of 2017 that also affected consumers in both Canada and the U.S. The 2017 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 was associated with leafy greens in the U.S. and romaine in Canada. This year, romaine lettuce is the suspected vehicle for both the U.S. and Canadian outbreaks. There is no genetic link between the current outbreak and the E.coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine that occurred in the Spring of 2018.
The FDA is conducting a traceback investigation to determine the source of the romaine lettuce eaten by people who became sick. Additionally, FDA and states are conducting laboratory analysis of romaine lettuce samples potentially linked to the current outbreak.
The most recent illness onset in the U.S. in the current outbreak was October 31, 2018. For this outbreak investigation, the average interval between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to CDC is 20 days.
People should not eat romaine lettuce until more is known about the source of the contaminated lettuce and the status of the outbrea
- Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.
o This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.
o If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
o Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
- Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.
- Take actionif you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:
o Talk to your healthcare provider.
o Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
o Report your illness to the health department.
o Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.