Americans told to toss romaine lettuce as E. coli outbreak grows

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its warning to consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region due to a growing E. coli outbreak that has sickened people in 16 states.

The following information from the CDC website indicates that consumers should not "buy or eat romaine lettuce at a grocery store or restaurant unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region". The warning now includes whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, as well as chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

The new update is based on newly reported illnesses in Alaska, where individuals had eaten whole romaine lettuce.

The CDC's new warning also includes newly confirmed cases of E. Coli infections, and it's much more rigid about its language regarding eating romaine lettuce no matter where you are in the United States. No deaths have been reported.

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Other E. coli cases included in the outbreak have occurred in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Washington, according to the CDC.

At that time, ill people were not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine.

Health officials say if you can't confirm where the lettuce came from, don't eat it. These symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. "If you can not determine the source of your romaine lettuce, throw it away and don't eat it", the FDA warns. The CDC has yet to narrow down the contaminated lettuce to a particular brand, common grower, supplier, or distributor. For some, the illness may include a fever. The condition requires hospitalization and although most patients will recover, some may experience permanent kidney damage or die. Figuring out where bagged, store-bought chopped lettuce was originally grown can be hard, so the CDC suggested that if you don't know for certain, avoid chopped romaine lettuce altogether.

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