The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says that an additional 35 cases, including 22 hospitalizations, in 11 states have been identified. Although none of the confirmed E. coli cases have yet been linked to Fresh Foods, the company is concerned that its romaine supplier may have been involved in the outbreak.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2012 California farmers contributed the following amounts of leafy green product to the US supply including 77% of romaine lettuce, 71% of iceberg lettuce and 66% of spinach.
"Consumer Reports is making this recommendation given the potentially fatal consequences of E. coli, the fact that there are still several unknowns about this outbreak, and that no type of romaine has been ruled definitively safe by government officials", Consumer Reports Director of Food Safety Research and Testing James E. Rogers, Ph.D., said.
Those who want to purchase romaine salad at grocery stores should first confirm that it was not grown in Yuma, Arizona, according to the CDC.
The advice is based on interviews with 28 of the ill individuals in which 93% of them reported consuming romaine lettuce within the week they began feeling sick. Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 22, 2018 to March 31, 2018.
The symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections vary, but usually include severe and painful stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. About 5 to 10% of people diagnosed with this illness develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.
The CDC reports that this investigation remains active, and that it will provide an update when it can. Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten. At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.
The recall is in response to a CDC notice on romaine lettuce sourced by a supply partner from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.
The FDA recommends that consumers ask restaurants and other food service establishments where their romaine lettuce originated, and avoid chopped romaine lettuce that originated from Yuma, Arizona. The Daily Meal has reached out to Chipotle and Just Salad to inquire whether they will continue to use and serve romaine lettuce in their meals.
Consumers who have symptoms of STEC infection should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care.
This is a different E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak from the E. coli outbreak that took place from November to December 2017.