It is time once again for everyone to look in their refrigerators, fish out whatever romaine lettuce they might have in the crisper, and throw it in the garbage. A new E. coli outbreak has been linked to the salad green, and the Centers for Disease Control warns all consumers, grocery stores, and restaurants should discard any romaine they have, whether it is in the form of whole heads, hearts, or chopped leaves, packaged in bags, boxes, or part of Caesar salad kits. All romaine lettuce is bad.
The CDC, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and officials in several states and Canada are looking into an outbreak that has led to reports of 32 illnesses in 11 states. This particular strain of E. coli is the Shiga toxin-producing variety, which can lead to kidney failure. Thirteen people have been hospitalized, including one person with a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. In Canada, 18 people have fallen ill in Ontario and Quebec.
Earlier this year, an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, resulted in nearly 200 illnesses and five deaths. Government officials have not determined the source of this latest outbreak.
The announcement from the CDC comes two days before Thanksgiving, forcing a change of plans for any Americans who planned to include salad on their Turkey Day table. Sorry, West Coasters.