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Health Canada Warning: Immediately Throw Away Your Romaine Lettuce

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There’s been an outbreak of E. coli.

Health Canada has just issued a warning to residents of Ontario and Toronto to stop consuming romaine lettuce.

The reason: an outbreak of E. coli that has produced dozens of cases of illness in the United States and Canada.

“There have been 180 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario and Toronto, according to the press release.

20 people were hospitalized, and 15 individuals suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection. No deaths have been reported yet. 

Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications.

Because the investigation is ongoing and no single brand has been identified as a carrier, the health agency is telling individuals to “avoid eating romaine lettuce and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce until more is known about the outbreak.”

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestines of cattle but can spread to produce that has come into contact with their feces, the press release explains.

“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 government agency advises.

“This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine,” it continues. “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.”

People infected with E. coli can have a wide range of symptoms, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, but the generally appear within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria and include nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever, severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea

Symptoms of an infection in humans include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • mild fever
  • severe stomach cramps
  • watery or bloody diarrhea

The current strain is expecially pernicious and is “more likely than other strains to cause severe illness. Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications,” states Health Canada.

The Public Health Agency recommends washing all lettuce thoroughly under cold, running water until dirt is removed, rather than soaking it in a sink. It also recommends thoroughly cleaning with soap all utensils and surfaces that come in contact with lettuce.


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