Beware The Thanksgiving Salad: CDC Says No Romaine Lettuce Is Safe

Romaine lettuce is displayed on a shelf at a supermarket in California in April, during an E. coli outbreak traced to contaminated lettuce. The CDC says a new outbreak has made lettuce dangerous to eat, just in time for America's most food-centric holiday. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Cut Caesar salad off the menu this week: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a multi-state E. coli outbreak is underway, and romaine lettuce is to blame.

Thirty-two people are sick, including 13 who were hospitalized; no deaths have been reported. Another 18 people were sickened in Canada.

Evidence points toward romaine lettuce as the likely source, but the CDC can't get more specific than that.

So for now, any and all romaine lettuce should be thrown out, the agency says. That means heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, lettuce mixes, and a classic Caesar salad.

If you're not sure if your bagged lettuce includes romaine, chuck it out, the CDC says. And after you throw out the romaine lettuce, be sure to wash and sanitize the crisper drawer or fridge shelf the lettuce touched.

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The good news: Sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkins and potatoes show no sign of being affected.

The new outbreak, according to DNA fingerprints, includes the same strain of E. coli as a 2017 leafy green outbreak in the U.S. and romaine lettuce outbreak in Canada. The source of that outbreak was never precisely identified.

This is a different strain than the one responsible for another romaine lettuce scare in the U.S. earlier this year, when the vegetable caused E. coli infections in more than 200 people in 30 states, killing 5 people.

In that outbreak, the CDC initially traced the offending greens back to Yuma, Ariz.

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A tainted canal was ultimately identified as the culprit. That outbreak, first announced in April, was declared over in June.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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