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It's OK to eat romaine lettuce again as officials declare E. coli outbreak over

Caesar salad lovers rejoice -- your crispy romaine lettuce leaves are OK to eat now.The nationwide, monthslong...

Posted: Jan 15, 2020 3:30 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2020 5:00 PM

Caesar salad lovers rejoice -- your crispy romaine lettuce leaves are OK to eat now.

The nationwide, monthslong E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce ended Wednesday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration.

The romaine, which came from Salinas, California, infected a total of 167 people in 27 states.

This included 85 hospitalizations, including 15 patients who developed a type of kidney failure -- hemolytic uremic syndrome -- known to be associated with this particular type of bacteria, E. coli O157:H7. The toxin produced by the bacteria typically causes symptoms such as vomiting, stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea.

No deaths have been linked to the outbreak.

The onset of illnesses were reported between September 20 and December 21, 2019, and the outbreak affected people ranging in age from younger than 1 to 89.

Nearly two-thirds of those impacted were female.

The CDC no longer advises people to avoid lettuce from the Salinas Valley. The contaminated lettuce that sickened people during the outbreak is no longer being sold, the agency said.

The FDA said its investigation into the source of the outbreak is continuing, and it plans to conduct another 'in-depth, root-cause investigation' to explain how contamination occurred.

Why E. coli loves leafy greens

'Leafy greens, such as lettuce, can become contaminated in the field by soil, contaminated water, animals or improperly composted manure,' Jeff Farber, director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety and a professor at University of Guelph in Ontario, told CNN after a 2018 outbreak. 'Lettuce can also be contaminated by bacteria during and after harvest from handling, storing and transporting the produce.'

People usually consume romaine lettuce without cooking it, which could kill the germs.

'Other raw fruits and vegetables that have come into contact with feces from infected animals are another common source of infection,' Farber said.

Popularity also plays a role in why lettuce is a frequent bad actor: 'Lettuce is also eaten the most out of all the produce items,' he said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 250514

Reported Deaths: 6315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078063457
Riverside19450479
Orange15778360
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial6979105
Alameda6472140
Fresno562677
Kern510080
Santa Clara4849160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
San Francisco377650
Sacramento355969
San Mateo3441108
Contra Costa343279
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271019
Kings258332
Stanislaus239144
Monterey179115
Solano147625
Merced127211
Sonoma126710
Placer78611
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo58324
Madera5665
Santa Cruz4173
Napa3444
San Benito2572
Lassen2340
Butte2063
El Dorado2060
Sutter2063
Humboldt1444
Shasta1354
Nevada1231
Glenn1220
Yuba1031
Tehama881
Lake850
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Calaveras530
Del Norte511
Tuolumne430
Mono411
Inyo331
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Amador260
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
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Today was hot and tomorrow will be as well. But slightly below average temperatures move in as we see a dip in the jet stream.
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