Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is advising residents to not eat and dispose of romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region due to a multistate outbreak of E. coli.
Consumers should dispose of all whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad if the packaging says “Salinas” on the label or if it is unlabeled. ADHS is advising retailers not to sell any romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas.
“E. coli can cause serious illness, so it is critical that everyone take precautions and not consume any romaine lettuce that may be associated with this multi-state outbreak,” said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director. “If you or someone from your family recently ate romaine lettuce and are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical treatment immediately.”
Symptoms of E. coli include diarrhea, which can sometimes be bloody, and abdominal pain. E. coli infection ranges from mild to severe, with symptoms lasting about five to seven days in most people. Young children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised are at risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially life-threatening illness that can cause kidney failure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating 40 cases of E. coli O157 from 16 states, including two cases in Arizona. There have been 28 hospitalizations reported and five people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. The two cases in Arizona were hospitalized, with one patient developing hemolytic uremic syndrome. Both have recovered from the illness and have been released from the hospital.
ADHS is working with local health departments, the CDC, and the FDA to confirm the source of the E. coli O157 infections, to identify additional cases, and to prevent the spread of the disease. To prevent foodborne illness, ADHS advises everyone to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water prior to food preparation or consumption, and after using the toilet. Fruits and vegetables should be washed before eating or handling. Avoid cross-contamination of food during preparation by washing hands, cutting boards, utensils, and any food preparation surfaces.
Information provided by ADHS