It is unlikely that anyone today has edible romaine lettuce contaminated with the toxic load of E. coli bacteria that are nationwide ill is doing since March. This is the message that came from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, and if it's not just a thunderous signal from "All Right," it's pretty close.
Romana salad has a shelf life of about 21 days. The current outbreak was attributed to the Yuma, Arizona growing region, the source of virtually all of the salad sold in the US during the winter months. The CDC said Wednesday that April 16 was the last day Roman romaine was harvested in the Yuma area. The leafy vegetable industry has moved to California in the last two months.
"Romano salad from the Yuma growing region is no longer durable and is unlikely to be sold in stores or served in restaurants," the CDC press release said. In its most recent official update, the CDC notes that new cases of E. coli-related food poisoning date back to when contaminated lettuce was still in circulation or in household refrigerators: "It takes two to three weeks between the disease and E coli and when the disease is reported to CDC.The most recent CDC-reported illnesses began when romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region was still likely to be available in shops, restaurants, and people's homes. "
The CDC has Consumers are advised against throwing away romaine lettuce if they can. (19659006) By May 15, 172 people had contracted in 32 states, an increase of 23 people and three states since the last update a week ago. A death was reported. Of those, 75 were hospitalized, including 20 with kidney failure.
This outbreak is nearing that of the 2006 E. coli outbreak of baby spinach, which has left more than 200 people ill. Five people died in this outbreak.
The E. coli strain, known as O157: H7, produces a Shiga toxin that can make people seriously ill, causing diarrhea and vomiting and, in severe cases, kidney failure. The US Food & Drug Administration has been trying to pinpoint where and when Romain was involved in this recent outbreak.
Lena H. Sun contributed to this report.