US issues health alert on romaine lettuce

VIDEO: REUTERS
Romaine lettuce like that above sickened 32 people in 11 US states with the E. coli bug.
Romaine lettuce like that above sickened 32 people in 11 US states with the E. coli bug.ST FILE PHOTO

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US health officials warned consumers on Tuesday (Nov 20) not to eat any romaine lettuce and to throw away any they might have in their homes, citing an outbreak of E. coli poisoning.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the warning against all romaine lettuce just two days before the Thanksgiving holiday, when American families gather and feast together.

"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," the CDC said, after 32 people were reported sick from E. coli poisoning in 11 states, with 13 of them hospitalised.

One of those had suffered kidney failure.

Health officials in Canada said they had also identified 18 people stricken with the same strain of food poisoning in two provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

"This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix and Caesar salad," the CDC said, noting that it had not been able to pinpoint precisely where the suspect leaves had originated.

"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," the CDC said.

It advised anyone who had stored romaine lettuce in their refrigerator to wash down the shelves where the leaves had been kept.

No deaths have so far been reported.