Romaine lettuce suspected as source of deadly E. coli strain

Consumers in the affected states, which include California, New York and Washington, are being advised to avoid Romaine lettuce by consumer watchdog Consumer Reports.

A similar outbreak in Canada was traced to romaine lettuce.

It is likely that those who are sick in both countries share a common source of infection, said the CDC in a news release.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating an E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce that has sickened at least 58 people in the USA and Canada.

The consumer advocacy group believes USA health officials should be sending a stronger message to stay away from the popular salad green as they investigate the string of illnesses.

"Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether USA residents should avoid a particular food".

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Consumer Reports advises that people should throw away any romaine lettuce they have, and do not buy any more, until the outbreak's cause has been determined.

The U.S. cases were reported beginning November 15 to December 8.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is nearly always consumed raw", Consumer Report's director of food safety and research James Rogers said.

This strain of E. coli produces a toxin that, in some cases, can lead to serious illness, kidney problems and even death.

The CDC reported that the infection has been found in 13 states and Canada. We will update this post as more information on the outbreaks becomes available.

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