Stay away from romaine lettuce after E. coli breakout, Consumer Reports advises

E. coli outbreak may be linked to romaine lettuce

If romaine is your go-to salad green, it's best to add some spinach or arugula to your shopping cart instead for now.

Some restaurants in Canada have stopped serving dishes with romaine lettuce after a deadly E. coli outbreak has been linked to the leafy vegetable.

Consumer Reports says people should stop eating romaine lettuce until the cause of the outbreak is identified and the tainted product is removed from store shelves.

In addition to NY, the affected states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington state.

In the US, officials with the CDC, the FDA, and state public health authorities have been conducting interviews with the 17 people who have become ill in the USA outbreak, to learn what they ate in the week before their illness. The organizations say the bacteria is "closely related genetically" to the Canadian strain that's been reported 41 times in five provinces.

While anyone can get sick if they are infected with E. coli 0157:H7, young children, the elderly and anyone with conditions that weaken the immune system are at greater risk.

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Last week, Canada's Public Health Agency identified romaine lettuce as the origin of the country's outbreak.

An E. coli outbreak has sickened more than a dozen Americans, and it's possible that romaine lettuce could be the source. But once romaine is cleared as safe to eat, it's still important to thoroughly wash your leaves before eating them.

According to Consumer Reports, 58 people in the US and Canada have become ill from the strain of E. coli - O157: H7 - in the last seven weeks. So for now, Consumer Reports says people should assume that any romaine lettuce, even when sold in bags and packages, might be contaminated.

Another possibility is that the E. coli strain causing illness in the United States is actually slightly different from the strain in Canada.

Chapman suspects that officials will make an announcement soon about whether the US and Canadian outbreaks are indeed the same.

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