Consumer Reports is urging us all to avoid romaine lettuce after 58 people in the U.S. and Canada have become ill from a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria very likely caused by romaine lettuce. According to Consumer Reports, the food-borne illnesses have been reported in 13 states including California. Five people have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There has also been one death reported in Canada.
Health officials in Canada have already identified the lettuce as the source of the outbreak and are advising people in the nation’s eastern provinces to eat other types of lettuce until further notice. In the U.S. officials are still investigating the outbreaks, but haven’t warned people not to eat romaine lettuce. This particular strain of E. coli, however, is extremely dangerous because it could lead to, in some cases, kidney failure, or even death.
Complications from E. coli
Symptoms of an E. coli infection typically start about one to three days after eating the contaminated food. However, one might also start experiencing symptoms 10 days later. Some of the common symptoms of an E. coli infection include bloody diarrhea, stomach ache, high fever and severe vomiting.
About 5 to 10 percent of those infected with E. coli may develop a condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious condition that affects the blood vessels and can cause kidney failure and death. Those who have HUS may experience symptoms such as extreme fatigue, decreased urination and paleness in the cheeks and under the eyes. Typically these symptoms may surface about seven days after the E. coli symptoms begin. Young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to E. coli infections and other complications.
What Can You Do?
We don’t know at this point where the romaine lettuce that potentially caused these illnesses was grown or processed. So, it is best to assume that all romaine lettuce is dangerous to consume, even if it is sold in bags and packages. If you have any romaine lettuce in the fridge, discard it.
If you believe you have become sick as a result of consuming romaine lettuce, isolate and preserve the leftover produce so it can be tested in a lab for potential contamination. In such cases, manufacturers or food processors may be held accountable for the losses you suffer as a result of their defective products. An experienced California food poisoning lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.