Contaminated romaine lettuce was found to be the cause of what the FDA is calling a “multistate outbreak of E. coli” affecting at least 35 people in 11 different states, 22 of whom had to be hospitalized. The contamination and subsequent infection has been linked to pre-chopped, packaged romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona, which is the main grower of romaine this time of year, but no connections have been made in regards to identifying specific distributors, suppliers or brands.
While many strains of E coli are not harmful, this strain, E. coli O157:H7 has the potential to be deadly. Causing dehydration, (severe) abdominal cramps, and/or (bloody) diarrhea, this potentially life-threatening strain produces the toxin, Shiga, that “destroys red blood cells and causes kidney failure.” While it can be severe for anyone, E coli is particularly severe for very young people, the elderly, and pregnant women.
Since no specific brands or suppliers have been identified, if you purchased pre-packaged, chopped romaine lettuce or any salad mixes that contain romaine, unless you can prove they are not originally from Yuma, Arizona you should throw them out immediately. If you have more questions, call 1-888-SAFEFOOD.