The Slatest

CDC Warns Everyone in the Country to Avoid Romaine Lettuce of Any Kind

A close-up detail of romaine lettuce.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned everyone, no matter where they live in the country, to throw out romaine lettuce of any kind because of a new outbreak of illnesses caused by a dangerous strain of E. coli contamination.

The CDC, in an alert sent out Tuesday afternoon, said that grocery stores and restaurants should also throw out any romaine lettuce they may have and not sell or serve any more. The CDC warned consumers that it did not matter when they bought the romaine, where the romaine was grown, what state the romaine is in (chopped, whole, as hearts of romaine, or as part of a mix), or even if someone had already eaten some of the romaine and not gotten sick. The bottom line: Avoid all romaine.

The CDC is investigating the outbreak, and it will announce when romaine is safe to eat again, or when it pinpoints the source of the outbreak. It also warned consumers to sanitize any places where romaine was stored.

According to the CDC, 32 people in 11 states have been reported sick from the outbreak. Thirteen of those people were hospitalized, but none died. Canada’s public health agency has also reported 18 illnesses from the same outbreak.

Earlier this year, the U.S. saw a larger romaine-relate E. coli outbreak that sickened 210 people and killed five. As Aaron Mak reported then for Slate, it often takes a relatively long time to find the source of an outbreak because of how complicated our food supply system is. This latest outbreak appears to come from a different strain of E. coli.

The warning comes just two days before Thanksgiving. Luckily, Slate has laid out a handy guide of lettuce alternatives, which should help you get through the holiday.