FDA: Some lettuce tainted with E. coli came from Imperial County

Florence Lopez
June 3, 2018

It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in people's homes, stores, or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life. On Friday, health officials said they have learned of four more - another in California as well as one each in Arkansas, Minnesota and NY. Eighty-nine people have been hospitalized, and 26 of them developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Previously one death had been reported, in California.

Since mid-May, "four more deaths were reported, bringing the total to five deaths from Arkansas (1), California (1), Minnesota (2), and NY (1)", the CDC said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 25 more people had been infected since its last report on 16 May.

Numerous new cases were people who became ill two to three weeks ago, when contaminated lettuce was still being sold.

Officials also noted that some of the individuals who became ill never actually consumed the contaminated lettuce but were in close contact with someone else who had done so.

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Meanwhile, government authorities are still trying to figure out how and why the outbreak happened.

Unlike spinach, which is often cooked, romaine - and lettuce in general - is more common as a culprit in E.coli outbreaks because it's eaten raw. Gottlieb is Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Ostroff is FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.

According to the latest statement from the CDC, numerous people affected fell ill two to three weeks ago, when the contaminated lettuce was still on shop shelves.

The recent E. coli outbreak is the most severe to hit the USA since 2006, when three people died in an outbreak linked to uncooked spinach.

Most E. coli bacteria are not harmful, but some produce toxins that can cause severe illness.

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