Health Canada has updated its warning about E. coli outbreak connected to romaine lettuce sold in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.
Currently, there have been a total of 40 reported cases of E. coli in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. Individuals became sick in November 2017 and 16 have been hospitalized. One person has died.
“Individuals in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are advised to consider consuming other types of lettuce, instead of romaine lettuce, until more is known about the outbreak and the cause of contamination,” said the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in a release.
E. coli are bacteria that live naturally in the intestines of cattle, poultry and other animals. A common source of E. coli illness is raw fruits and vegetables that have come in contact with feces from infected animals.
The following symptoms can appear within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria:
- mild fever
- severe stomach cramps
- watery or bloody diarrhea
To protect yourself from E. coli, PHAC recommends the following tips:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling lettuce.
- Discard outer leaves of fresh lettuce.
- Wash your unpackaged lettuce under fresh, cool running water. There is no need to use anything other than water to wash lettuce. Washing it gently with water is as effective as using produce cleansers.
- Keep rinsing your lettuce until all of the dirt has been washed away.
- Don’t soak lettuce in a sink full of water. It can become contaminated by bacteria in the sink.
- Ready-to-eat lettuce products sold in sealed packages and labelled as washed, pre-washed or triple-washed do not need to be washed again.
- Use warm water and soap to thoroughly wash all utensils, countertops and cutting boards before and after handling lettuce to avoid cross-contamination.
- Store lettuce in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Discard when leaves become wilted or brown.
- Bagged, ready-to-eat, pre-washed lettuce products should also be refrigerated and used before the expiration date.
There are currently no recalls on any lettuce products and the outbreak investigation is ongoing.