Health department alert over romaine lettuce

Don't eat romaine lettuce: Health Canada

Pinpointing the exact cause of the outbreak can be hard because public health officials often have to search for similarities in places those who fall ill have visited or what they've eaten.

Read the full public health notice at this link. The Public Health Agency of Canada says there have been 18 confirmed cases of E. Coli illness investigated in Ontario and Quebec, as of November 20. Of 26 people with information available, 13 (50%) were hospitalized, including one person who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

They say in Canada, exposure to romaine lettuce has been identified as a source of the outbreak, but the cause of contamination has not been identified. No deaths have been reported.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the warning against all Romaine lettuce just two days before the Thanksgiving holiday, when American families gather and feast together. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey [PDF - 787 KB] of healthy people in which 47% reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before they were interviewed.

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The Sobeys and Loblaws grocery chains are pulling romaine lettuce off the shelves at all their stores across Canada in response to a E. Coli outbreak in the Ontario, Quebec and parts of the U.S.

"Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick", the CDC said.

On Tuesday, the US CDC said that the romaine lettuce-linked food poisoning outbreak was due to the E. coli bacteria.

Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with E. coli O157 infections. At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.

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