The recent E. coli outbreak that caused people to become severely ill after eating romaine lettuce is not over.
According to federal health officials, there are likely still tainted heads of romaine on grocery store shelves and being used across the country.
The recent outbreak was the worst concerning E. coli in more than a decade. Tainted lettuce continues to make people sick and authorities aren’t yet sure if romaine lettuce is even the sole source of the outbreak, which began in late March of 2018.
To date, nearly 150 people in 29 states have become ill after consuming tainted romaine lettuce. Authorities believe lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona is at least partially responsible for the problem, and despite romaine no longer being grown in the region because of the outbreak, the FDA cannot yet guarantee that tainted lettuce from the region is completely out of circulation.
The agency is also in the midst of investigating “dozens of other fields” that could potentially be a problem and the agency has yet to determine where in the supply chain the contamination occurred.
Is there a Romaine Lettuce Recall?
As the most severe E. coli outbreak in over 10 years, some are wondering why the FDA hasn’t issued a recall on romaine lettuce.
When a similar event occurred in 2006 and was linked to spinach, the FDA issued a recall within a month. Many believe it was that recall that finally ended the outbreak and they believe a recall on lettuce could accomplish the same today.
At least one person familiar with the outbreak believes contamination could be occurring at a processing facility, which would account for the ongoing problem.
At this point, it would seem that any lettuce from a contaminated harvest would be out of the supply chain, but people are still getting sick in the second month of the outbreak – well beyond the date the original harvest would edible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that people should continue to avoid romaine lettuce unless they know it came directly from a source they trust. Farmers who sell locally throughout the country are offering assurances their lettuce is not tainted, but the same cannot be said for large producers and commercially purchased lettuce.
Should You Eat Romaine Lettuce?
Despite the health benefits of leafy greens and romaine lettuce, it’s best to steer clear of it for the time being. The CDC has yet to give the all clear and is unlikely to do so until they are able to discover the cause of the contamination, especially as additional cases of illnesses continue to pop up.
E. coli illnesses are caused by the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. It causes an intestinal infection that triggers a variety of unpleasant symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.
For most people, the illness is mild to moderate, but those with weakened immune systems or pregnant women, or the very young or very old are at risk for serious complications. There are also instances in which an otherwise healthy adult might experience an extreme bout of E. coli and suffer from bloody diarrhea, dehydration, or even kidney failure.
If you or a loved one has eaten romaine lettuce recently and developed E. coli symptoms, or you are concerned you’ve contracted food poisoning from any source, you might be eligible for compensation.