Following a news release from the Centers for Disease Control, which reported on an outbreak of 17 cases of E. coli infections across 13 U.S. states between Nov. 15 and Dec. 8, the food safety experts at Consumer Reports are recommending people refrain from eating romaine lettuce until the source of the bacteria is identified.
The CDC further confirmed to Fox News that five Americans have been hospitalized as a result of the E. coli bacteria, including one who died and two who developed kidney failure.
The CDC has not yet linked the outbreak to romaine lettuce specifically. However, the organization does acknowledge in their release that a similar E. Coli outbreak in Canada — which the Public Health Agency of Canada has officially linked to romaine lettuce — may be “closely related genetically” to the strain responsible for the outbreak in the U.S., according to preliminary tests.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed that out of its 41 reported cases, one individual has died.
The CDC added that it is “unable to recommend” that the public avoid any specific foods while their investigation is still ongoing. However, the results of the aforementioned tests have prompted the CDC to investigate whether sufferers shared a common diet of leafy greens or romaine lettuce.
Consumer Reports, meanwhile, has already advised the public to take precautions when considering raw romaine.
“Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw,” said James Rogers, Ph.D., the director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports.
Jean Halloran, a director of food policy initiatives working under Consumer Reports, also urged the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning or specify the source of the E. coli outbreak before people eat any more “potentially contaminated romaine.”