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National Restaurant Association - Is romaine lettuce responsible for latest E. coli outbreak?

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Is romaine lettuce responsible for latest E. coli outbreak?

U.S. and Canadian health officials are continuing to investigate whether romaine lettuce is at the heart of an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in 13 states and Canada over the last seven weeks.

What we know: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating whether 58 people in the United States and Canada became ill after eating romaine lettuce. So far, U.S. cases have been reported in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington. The Public Health Agency of Canada also is looking into an outbreak in its eastern provinces related to the consumption of romaine lettuce.

The latest info: The CDC and FDA are still monitoring the multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, but have not yet identified the source of the infections. As a result, they are unable to recommend whether consumers should avoid eating certain foods, such as leafy greens and romaine lettuce.

The agencies are using whole genome sequencing on samples of the bacteria to determine if the illnesses are related and that the lettuce is the common source of infection, the CDC said.

What’s next: The agencies will release more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, restaurants can work with their suppliers and distributors to determine next steps. So far, foodservice conglomerate Compass Group USA said it has removed romaine lettuce from its menu items until further notice.

In cases of E. coli 0157:H7, symptoms can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and fever. Anemia, urinary tract infections and kidney failure may also occur.

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