More than 100 people have now been confirmed with infections in an E. coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce. Public health officials continue their warning against romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, CA, area or any romaine from an unknown source.

As of today, there are 102 patients spread across 23 states from coast to coast. The outbreak has an unusually high hospitalization rate with more than half of the patients have required hospitalization, according to an update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 10 people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is frequently fatal and also causes lifelong complications such as brain damage. The confirmed patients range in age from 1 to 89 years old. The most recent patient to be confirmed became ill on Nov. 18.

As the harvest of romaine begins moving from the Salinas area in California to the Yuma area in Arizona, federal officials continue their warnings. There have been five outbreaks related to romaine from California and Arizona since late 2017.

“Epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback evidence indicates that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, CA, growing region is a likely source of this outbreak,” according to an update today from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Consumers should not eat romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California. . . . Romaine lettuce may be voluntarily labeled with a harvest region. If this voluntary label indicates that the romaine lettuce was grown in ‘Salinas’ — whether alone or with the name of another location — do not eat it. Throw it away or return it to the place of purchase. If romaine lettuce does not have information about harvest region or does not indicate that it has been grown indoors — i.e., hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown — throw it away or return it to the place of purchase. Consumers ordering salad containing romaine at a restaurant or at a salad bar should ask the staff whether the romaine came from Salinas. If it did, or they do not know, do not eat it.”

The CDC has almost identical information for consumers. The agency made it clear again today that the concern is broad. The agency repeated its previous statements, warning consumers that “no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.”

Federal officials had already asked industry to voluntarily pull all romaine from the Salinas out of the supply chain for the remainder of the growing season there.

“Without more specific traceback information, this was the most efficient way to ensure that contaminated romaine was off the market. At this time, romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Salinas region has not been implicated in this outbreak investigation,” according to the FDA.

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