If you have any romaine lettuce in your kitchen, you may want to think twice about eating it.
Health Canada has issued a public notice explaining that a recent outbreak of E. coli in Ontario and several other provinces has been linked to the consumption of romaine lettuce, and residents are warned to take caution in order to avoid getting sick.
There are currently 30 cases of E. coli illness under investigation by the Public Health Agency of Canada, six of which are in Ontario. A number of people became sick in November and December 2017, with many of them reporting that they ate romaine lettuce before their illnesses occurred.
Of the 30 cases, twelve people were hospitalized and one person has died.
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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with public health officials to determine the source of the romaine lettuce that ill individuals were exposed to.
Since anyone can contract an E. coli infection, residents are advised to heed the following safety tips for washing and handling lettuce:
- Discard outer leaves of fresh lettuce.
- Wash unpackaged lettuce under fresh, cool running water (only water is necessary). Rinse lettuce carefully until all of the dirt has been washed away.
- Don’t soak lettuce in a sink full of water. It can become contaminated by bacteria in the sink.
- Store lettuce in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Discard when leaves become wilted or brown.
- Use soap and warm water to wash your hands and all utensils, countertops and cutting boards when handling lettuce.
Symptoms of E. coli infection can appear within one to ten days of contact with the bacteria and include nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever, stomach cramps and watery or bloody diarrhea.
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Photo credited to Forest & Kim Starr