Restaurants and retailers are being asked not to serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. The warning is for lettuce that is whole heads, hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, salads, and salad mix bags.
Initially, the outbreak was tied only to chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma.
The CDC recommends that restaurants and foodservice operators wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where contaminated product may have been stored, as well as cutting boards, surfaces and utensils. If you've got mixed greens and aren't sure whether they include romaine, it's best to toss those as well, according to CDC officials.
This warning comes after 53 people from 16 states (including one in California) were found to be infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7.
Steve Alameda, president of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, told the Associated Press that the outbreak has weighed heavily on him and other farmers. "We take this very personally". Infections start when someone swallows a tiny amount of human or animal feces through a variety of ways, including contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk, unclean water or contact with the feces of infected people.
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Grocery stores, restaurants and other lettuce outlets have been working overtime to sort this all out.
Until the CDC issues an all-clear, it's best to avoid romaine.
Some examples include hanging signs for clarification and doing outreach on social media to lessen consumers' concerns, including this grocery store in NY.
Though there's been no recall, the CDC hasn't given anything close to an "all clear" message since posting its warnings, so the advice still stands.
Good luck out there.