Avoid eating romaine lettuce until U.S. health officials determine the source of an outbreak of E. coli that has made 58 people sick in the U.S. and Canada, cautions Consumer Reports.
The consumer advocacy group urged the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to send a stronger message to warn people about the dangerous outbreak.
The outbreak started on dates from Nov. 15 through Dec. 8, according to the CDC. Five people in the U.S. have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the CDC. In Canada, 41 cases have been reported and one person has died.
Along with New York, a dozen other affected states include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak, but the CDC is still investigating whether the leafy green is the culprit.
“Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available,” the CDC website notes.
There are alternative greens until there’s conclusive evidence.
“Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw,” said James Rogers, Ph.D., Director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports in their report.
This strain of E. coli produces a toxin that can lead to serious illness, kidney problems and even death.