Health officials say it’s OK to eat romaine lettuce again, E. coli outbreak declared over

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FILE – This Nov. 20, 2018 file photo shows Romaine Lettuce in Simi Valley, Calif. Health officials are disclosing another E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the summer 2019, but say it appears to be over.
The disclosure comes after romaine producers pledged to step up safety measures following a series of outbreaks, including one last year that sickened more than 200 and killed five. Experts say it’s not clear why romaine keeps getting tainted. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

(CBS) — Good news for salad lovers — after nearly three months, federal health officials have declared that it’s safe to eat romaine lettuce again. The recent nationwide E. Coli outbreak, which involved contaminated romaine lettuce from California, officially came to an end on Wednesday as the FDA lifted its nationwide consumer advisory.

The agency said no more new illnesses have been traced to the outbreak, and since the growing season for this region is over, consumers no longer need to avoid the lettuce. A separate outbreak linked to Fresh Express salad kits was also declared over.

The contaminated lettuce, which was harvested in Salinas, California, infected 167 people from 27 states, with ages ranging from younger than 1 to 89, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eight-five people got sick enough to be hospitalized.

At the time of the outbreak, health officials warned consumers, retailers and restaurants to steer clear of any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley region. By now, the contaminated lettuce that sickened people during the outbreak is no longer being sold.

Eight-five people got sick enough to be hospitalized, and 15 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. No deaths have been linked to the outbreak.

Common symptoms of E. coli bacteria include diarrhea (often bloody), stomach cramps and nausea. Some people develop a fever. Most people recover after a few days, but complications can be serious or even deadly.

The FDA is planning to conduct “an additional, in-depth, root-cause investigation” to determine exactly how the contamination started to help prevent future outbreaks.

First published on January 16, 2020 / 4:36 PM

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