The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday issued a food safety alert as the E. coli outbreak from tainted romaine lettuce threatens to grow during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
The warning comes just days after the CDC said 67 people were infected by a strain of the E. coli from romaine lettuce harvested in Salinas, California.
The risk is particularly great now during Thanksgiving when families and friends gather for dinners which may include salads and mixes with romaine lettuce.
The agency advised consumers and people in the food industry to discard all forms of romaine lettuce from the region. This includes pre-cut lettuce, hearts of romaine, baby romaine and spring mixes, the CDC said.
It further advised that restaurants and retailers should be vigilant with suppliers and check their sources of lettuce.
While no deaths have been reported from the outbreak, more than two dozen people have been hospitalised and five developed a form of kidney failure.
The Food and Drug Administration is working to trace the lettuce eaten by the infected; while they have narrowed the search to Salinas, no common grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been found, the CDC said.
This strain of E-coli produces the Shiga toxin and causes people to get sick within three to four days after consuming the germ. Symptoms include diarrhoea, severe cramps and vomiting, said the CDC. While most recover in a week, some are more severely affected resulting in prolonged illness.
Two dozen people fell ill due to E. coli between July and September while two major outbreaks last year left five dead and hundreds of others sick.