CDC Investigation Update of E. coli 0157 H7 Infections Now Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 22, 2019
Contact: Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

A CDC investigation notice of a multistate outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 infections has been posted: https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2019/o157h7-11-19/index.html

What is new:

  • Consumers should not eat and retailers and restaurants should not sell or serve any romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, Calif. growing region.
  • This advice includes all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, Caesar salad, and organic romaine.
  • If you have romaine lettuce at your home or restaurant and the label says “Salinas” (whether alone or with the name of another location). don’t eat it. Throw it away. If you don’t know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, don’t eat it or serve it. Throw it away.
  • Most romaine lettuce products are labeled with a harvest location showing where they were grown. Do not eat, serve, or sell any lettuce labeled as grown in Salinas, regardless of any other location on the label.
  • Restaurants and retailers should check the label on bags or boxes of romaine lettuce or ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce.

Latest outbreak information:

  • A total of 40 people infected with the outbreak strain of coli 0157:H7 have been reported from 16 states.
  • A total of 27 hospitalizations have been reported. Five people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
  • Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence and interviews with ill people indicate that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, Calif., growing region may be contaminated with coli O157:H7 and is making people sick.
  • FDA is tracing the romaine lettuce eaten by ill people in this outbreak. Preliminary information collected indicates that the lettuce eaten by some of the ill people was grown in Salinas, Calif. No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.
  • The USDA has recalled several products containing romaine lettuce due to possible coli contamination. A full list of recalled products can be found herepdf iconexternal icon.
  • Laboratory data confirmed this outbreak is caused by the same strain of coli O157:H7 that caused previous outbreaks linked to leafy greens in 2017 and romaine lettuce in 2018.
  • This investigation is ongoing and CDC will provide updates when more information becomes available.

About Shiga toxin-producing E. coli:

  • People get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli an average of 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ. Most people get diarrhea (often bloody), severe stomach cramps, and vomiting.
  • Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe.
  • Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli infection is ruled out.
  • More information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/ecoli-prevention.html.

From Robert Tauxe, MD, Director of the CDC Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases:  “We are concerned about the potential for contaminated lettuce on store shelves and in people’s refrigerators. Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, it is critically important to avoid buying or eating romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing area so you can protect yourself and your family.”

If you have questions about cases in a specific state, please call that state’s health department.

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Page last reviewed: November 22, 2019