Health officials from the FDA are investigating whether a dozen people sickened with E. Coli ingested previously-recalled lettuce. The infections come from six states, and could be related recalls of romaine lettuce from a company named Tanimura and Antle. That recall affected over 1,100 Wal-Mart stores nationwide, meaning that the lettuce had been shipped all over the country.
Of the twelve people reported to have been sickened by E. Coli, five of them were hospitalized. The patients all showed that they were infected with the same strain of the disease that is linked to the current lettuce recall. At the time of this writing, no deaths have been reported from the cases.
The CDC regularly, randomly probes produce in the US to make sure that it isn’t contaminated. One such random probe in Michigan alerted the agency that Tanimura & Antle lettuce had been contaminated with E. Coli, leading to the widespread recall of the company’s produce.
The company recalled almost 3,400 cases of the tainted lettuce, which had shipped to over 1,100 Wal-Mart stores across 19 states and Puerto Rico.
The FDA also clarified that the lettuce had been shipped to other retailers, and their list brings the total number of states the lettuce was sold in up to 30. As such, the E. Coli outbreak could have occurred nationwide were it not for the diligent efforts of government health agencies.
The affected lettuce can be identified by the clear plastic packaging and “packed on” dates of October 15, 2020 or October 16, 2020. They can also be identified by the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9.
E. Coli is a bacterium that strikes people with an illness typically related to gastrointestinal health. The bacteria can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, intense stomach cramps, and, in extreme cases, even kidney failure.
It is a serious illness that can be deadly in older people, very young people, pregnant women, or the immunocompromised. Needless to say, an E. Coli outbreak in the midst of a pandemic is far from ideal.
Lettuce is a common vector for E. Coli due to the nature of how the bacteria grow. E. Coli is often found in cow droppings, and many lettuce farms are downstream from livestock farms.
Since lettuce is typically not cooked, this means lettuce watered with stream water that has been contaminated by cow droppings could easily transmit E. Coli. This is why washing your greens is so important, as is paying attention to recall notices.