Coli outbreak from romaine lettuce reaches Kentucky

Ebony Scott
May 5, 2018

The illnesses are specifically related to romaine grown in the Yuma, Ariz. region, the agency says.

The number of people hospitalized because of the tainted romaine is higher than usual. There are now 121 reported illnesses from 25 states, and in addition to the one death, there have been 52 hospitalizations and 14 kidney failures.

Kentucky, Massachusetts and Utah were added to the list affected by the outbreak, bringing the total number of states to 25.

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One person has died from the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on May 2. Two dozen more people have been reported ill since just last week. Specifically, "the restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads". People who get sick from toxin-producing E. coli come down with symptoms about three to four days after swallowing the germ, with many suffering bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. More than 120 cases of E. Coli have been confirmed.

Bill Marler, a Seattle-based food safety lawyer who has been involved in food-borne illness lawsuits for decades, said it's striking that federal investigators still have not explained how, when and where the bacteria contaminated the romaine and spread to so many people and places. There has been surprisingly little information, to date, on other implicated farms or distributors. Numerous people sickened across the country consumed chopped lettuce that had been sold in bagged form to restaurants. There were 24 reported cases in California, officials there said. The first illnesses occurred in March, and the most recent began on April 21, the CDC said.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, "Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten".

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