The outbreak has already claimed a life here in the U.S.
Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel

UPDATE: Nearly a week after Consumer Reports criticized the CDC and the FDA for failing to respond to a widespread E.coli outbreak, the CDC has said, in an interview with NBC News, that it’s too soon to blame romaine lettuce for the outbreak.

Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, told NBC News that some of those affected have claimed not to have eaten any romaine lettuce prior to becoming ill. “And acting too soon to blame one particular crop might leave people at risk in case it turns out something else,” he said.

According to NBC News, while Canadian officials previously reported that they traced the bacteria to romaine lettuce, they were unable to pinpoint which particular source was contaminated. The last person to become sick was treated in early December. It’s possible that all the contaminated sources have been discarded—especially given lettuce’s short shelf life. But “If a similar situation caused this outbreak, then a fresh wave of E. coli cases could be looming,” said Williams. 

The original story from January 5, continues, below.


There are a lack of recall instructions on a widespread outbreak of E.coli thanks to contaminated romaine lettuce affecting both the United States and Canada, and neither the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been able to pinpoint the source of contamination.

Consumer Reports, an advocacy group, has pushed both the CDC and the FDA to warn the public to not eat any romaine lettuce—this comes after more than 58 people have fallen ill, and one person in the United States has died.

NBC News reports that the CDC first shared information on these lettuce-related illnesses on December 28; it reported that 17 people became ill in 13 different states starting in November. The situation is worse in Canada, where the Public Health Agency has counted more than 40 illnesses.

While some are calling for the FDA to publicly issue a recall or advise Americans to throw out their romaine lettuce, NBC reports that the group said there isn’t enough data to make recommendations just yet. In a statement released on Thursday, the CDC said they’re investigating and will immediately advise the public when they’ve uncovered more information.

New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

While cooking and boiling lettuce could most likely eliminate any trace of E.coli or other food-borne illnesses, it’s more likely that those affected became sick after using romaine lettuce in their salads.

But those at Consumer Reports are saying the risk is too great—regardless if either the CDC or the FDA discovers the exact source of E.coli contamination, it might be a smart move to toss your romaine, and switch to a different leafy green (such as kale) for the time being.