Caesar salads are off the menu until further notice following an advisory by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC issued a food safety alert Tuesday urging restaurants and grocery stores not to sell romaine lettuce or related foods and consumers not to eat any of the leafy green they may have at home due to an E. coli outbreak.
“(The Food and Drug Administration) and states are working to trace back romaine lettuce that ill people ate in the current outbreak,” the CDC announced in the advisory. “At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified. CDC is advising that consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and restaurants and retailers not sell any, until we learn more about this outbreak and the source of the contaminated lettuce.”
Despite the warning, no recalls have yet been issued.
According to the CDC, there have been 32 reported cases of E. coli in 11 states, with 13 patients being hospitalized. No related deaths have been reported.
California and Michigan lead the number of cases with 10 and seven, respectively. Other states affected by the outbreak are Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The CDC reports the illnesses started between Oct. 8 and Oct. 31.
“Illnesses that occurred after Oct. 30, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli infection and when the illness is reported,” according to the CDC. “This takes an average of two to three weeks.”
Genome sequencing shows the current strain is closely related to a strain from 2017, but not a strain from earlier this year.
The investigation is ongoing.
Safety tips from the CDC
- Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.
- This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.
- If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
- Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
- Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.
- Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:
- Talk to your healthcare provider.
- Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
- Report your illness to the health department.
- Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.
- People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after swallowing the germ.
- Some people with a STEC infection may get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
- E. coli infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample.
- Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli infection is ruled out. Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their risk of developing HUS, and a benefit of treatment has not been clearly demonstrated.