Just a mere three days before Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. It's probably fair to say hosts wish to avoid serving their holiday guests salads with E. coli, so here are some tips to best navigate this CDC alert.
Last week, New Jersey-based company Missa Bay, LLC recalled it's pre-packaged chicken salads due to possible E. coli risk. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported at the time 17 people were diagnosed with the illness across eight states, leading to seven hospitalizations. It's not clear if the most recent E. coli warning is linked to this recall, but the CDC did note the outbreak has since affected 40 people across 16 states and hospitalized 28. "Five people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure," the warning states. "No deaths have been reported."
The key to keeping you and your family safe during the holiday is to avoid romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California for the time being. The CDC is still investigating the matter, but did confirm the warning includes "all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad."
If you don't know where a package of lettuce was grown and harvested, don't buy it. Same applies for mixed salad bags — if you're not sure if romaine lettuce is in it, don't purchase it. And wash any areas of your refrigerator where infected romaine lettuce might have been stored.
Additionally, the CDC urges customers to continue avoiding Missa Bay LLC's recalled items, as some ill people reported eating the company's Ready Pac Foods Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad. Nearly 100,000 pounds of salad products were recalled due to the potential E. coli risk, and were sold at Aldi, Target’s Good & Gather brand, Domino’s, Marketside, and Signature, according to People.
"The safety and quality of our products and the well-being of our consumers are our top priorities," Missa Bay, LLC said in part via a statement regarding the recall. "We will continue to monitor the situation very closely, and we will continue to make new information readily available."
As for the strain of E. coli in question, it's O157:H7 which can present symptoms of severe bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and little or no fever, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The illness typically lasts 5 to 10 days, with symptoms appearing 2 to 5 days after infection. And if you notice any symptoms, please consult with a medical professional ASAP.
To recap, avoid any romaine lettuce from Salinas, California when you do your Thanksgiving shopping this year.