It can take weeks to track down the source of a food poisoning outbreak.
Fifty-nine people across the United States and Canada have been hit with a strain of E. coli bacteria over the past seven weeks, and in most cases, it's been traced back to the leafy green.
The strain of E. coli that's sickening people now produces a toxin than can lead to serious illness, kidney failure and death, Consumer Reports said.
Here are the basics on how E. coli outbreaks happen and what symptoms to look for. Five people in the USA have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Canadian health authorities identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in their country, and since December 14 have been advising people in the country's eastern provinces to consider eating other types of salad greens until further notice.
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For the time being, the CDC also recommends that consumers avoid romaine lettuce altogether. "Individuals in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador should consider consuming other types of lettuce, instead of romaine lettuce, until more is known about the outbreak and the cause of contamination".
However, on its website, it said, "We have not identified a source of the infections, thus is unable to recommend whether USA residents should avoid a particular food". State and local public health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in a week before their illness started. "This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available".
The "Center for Disease Control" (CDC) is urging people to avoid eating all kinds of romaine lettuce after almost 60 people were infected by E. Coli bacteria in more than a dozen states, including MI.
The food-safety experts at Consumer Reports are advising consumers to avoid romaine all together and any products with romaine in them - such as salad blends and mixes - until the cause is found, identified and removed from store shelves.
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E coli bacteria normally live in the intestines of people and animals. People can be exposed to E. coli from contaminated water or food, the Mayo Clinic said.
People in 13 states, including IL and in, have been infected.
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