40 E. Coli Infections Linked To Romaine Lettuce, CDC Says

Any romaine lettuce from California's Salinas Valley should be thrown out, the agency warned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning Friday against eating romaine lettuce from California’s Salinas Valley due to dozens of E. coli outbreaks.

The CDC is urging consumers to throw away any romaine from that Monterey County agricultural region, which is often called “America’s salad bowl.”

“This advice includes all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California,” the CDC said, “such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.” 

So far, the CDC has linked romaine to 40 E. coli infections across 16 states. Twenty-eight people have been hospitalized and five have gone into kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. 

The news comes a day after the New Jersey food company Missa Bay recalled more than 75,000 pounds of salad products after an inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The CDC is encouraging people to see their doctors if they have E. coli symptoms, which typically appear two to eight days after consuming a contaminated product. They may include diarrhea, abdominal pain or tenderness, nausea and vomiting, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Romaine has been subject to several recalls in recent years, but experts aren’t sure if there’s a particular reason why.

“We don’t know if lettuce really is more susceptible to food safety issues than other products,” said Paula Rivadeneira, an assistant professor in food safety and wildlife at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Yuma, Arizona, told HuffPost last year

E. coli outbreaks in romaine and other lettuces tend to be of more concern due to how often they’re consumed and because they’re typically served raw, removing any opportunity to cook out the pathogens.