You might have heard about the E. Coli outbreak in the U.S. and Canada linked to romaine lettuce.
So far, over 43 people have been infected across 12 states . What do we need to know about the E. coli outbreak? How can we keep ourselves safe?
What is E. coli?
Escherichia coli (also known as E. coli) are bacteria found in the “environment, foods, and guts of people and animals .” E. coli infections start when you swallow the bacteria . Not all types of E. coli cause illness, but some types do.
When E. coli bacteria contaminate food or drink, it can cause a foodborne illness. Foods that can be at high risk for E. coli include:
Should you stop eating lettuce? 
The CDC recommends that the public avoids eating romaine lettuce grown in the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. No specific grower or seller has been identified to be contaminated. Lettuce grown in other regions, such as Florida and the other parts of California, are not linked to the outbreak.
Check your bags of romaine lettuce to see where it is from. Make sure it was not grown in the contaminated area. If you do not know where your romaine lettuce was grown, do not eat it and throw it away. If you do not know if your lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
The Food and Drug Administration plans to add labels to romaine lettuce that will include when and where the lettuce was harvested. However, it may take some time for the labels to be created.
“When we go to the store or the farmers market, we cannot look at a food like fresh produce and know that it is safe.” she says. “We have to rely on the people who grow, transport and sell the products to keep them safe.”
How can you prevent foodborne illnesses?
We as consumers also need to keep food safety in mind. Dr. Harrison explains four easy ways to prevent foodborne illnesses in our homes.
Written by Taylor Newman, PhD/DI student | Edited by Laurel Sanville, MS, RDN, LD | In collaboration with Judy Harrison, MS, PhD
Posted November 28th, 2018
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