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CDC Says to Avoid Eating Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is the source of an E. coli infection that has affected 35 people across 11 states, and the total might increase. According to the CDC, “Illnesses that occurred after March 27, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to three weeks.”

The CDC discovered the source of the outbreak after 26 of 28 people interviewed about their illness were found to have consumed romaine lettuce. The CDC also has narrowed down the geographic region where the lettuce was grown, “At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified. However, preliminary information indicates that the chopped romaine lettuce was from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region.”

The CDC has recommended that, “Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away.” If you are not able to identify what type of lettuce you have, they also recommend disposing of it immediately. 

The fact that the responsible grower or distributor has not been pinpointed yet is not unusual. Unraveling the logistics of a food poisoning outbreak can take weeks. A product such as romaine lettuce is grown at multiple locations, shipped to a centralized location for processing, mixed with produce from other farms and distributed across a vast network. 

Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce are rarely cooked, a process which can kill E. coli and salmonella. Romaine lettuce is a head-forming lettuce and one of the four popular lettuce varieties, alongside crisphead, butterhead and leaf lettuce. It is a popular ingredient in salads, sandwiches, wraps and green smoothies. The Greeks and Romans not only used romaine lettuce as food, but also valued it as medicine because of its therapeutic properties. Romaine lettuce is also a focal point in the Passover Seder, because of the leaves’ bitter flavor. This symbolizes Maror, the bitterness of the slavery endured in Egypt.

If you want to avoid the vagaries and hazards of the grocery store supply chain, consider growing your own romaine lettuce this spring. It is never too early to plan ahead and romaine lettuce has a number of amazing health benefits. Despite the recall, romaine lettuce makes an excellent ingredient and probably should not be forever banished from your kitchen. 

If you are looking for a good use of romaine lettuce I recommend making my extraordinary and delectable egg, bacon and nori roll ups with avocado and lettuce recipe. It is a delightful and balanced dish. There is no better way to enjoy romaine lettuce again.
 
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