Warning Comes as Outbreak of E. coli Linked to Romaine Affects New York and 10 Other States
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today cautioned New Yorkers to follow the food safety alert from the Centers for Disease Control to not eat any romaine lettuce due to an E. coli outbreak across the country. The CDC is advising consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home to not eat it and throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. The CDC is also urging retailers and restaurants not to serve or sell any romaine lettuce until further notice.
"As we prepare to gather with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday, I urge all New Yorkers to follow the CDC's guidelines and refrain from eating or serving romaine lettuce until it is safe to do so," Governor Cuomo said. "As always, New Yorkers should be aware of current product recalls and food safety recommendations to ensure a happy and healthy holiday for all."
Thirty-two cases of people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli have been reported in 11 states, including two in New York State. The illnesses started on dates ranging from October 8, 2018 to October 31, 2018. Thirteen people have been hospitalized, including one person who developed a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
In addition, at least 18 people in Ontario and Quebec, Canada have been infected with E. coli. The current outbreak is not related to the Spring 2018 multistate outbreak of E. coli infections linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona region. If you have symptoms of an E. coli infection, talk to your healthcare provider.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "As we work with our state and federal partners to determine the cause of this outbreak and what can be done to reduce contamination and protect public health, we urge New Yorkers to stay away from romaine lettuce while this investigation continues. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick is to not eat or purchase any type of romaine lettuce at this time."
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "To protect consumers from this foodborne outbreak, we are urging New York families, retailers, grocers and restaurants to adhere to the warning and pull any romaine lettuce from their shelves and menus. Working with our partners, we will follow this investigation closely and keep consumers informed."
E. coli are bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Although most strains of this bacteria are harmless, several are known to produce toxins that can lead to illness and cause diarrhea or vomiting. The type of E. coli bacteria that most commonly produces toxins causing illness is Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). One of the most common E. coli strains, called E. coli O157:H7, is a STEC that can cause severe diarrhea. People become infected by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.
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