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What You Should Know About the Romaine Lettuce Recall

Dan Brian   |  December 20, 2018   |  

A recent, sweeping recall of romaine lettuce rocked the nation just before Thanksgiving. As one of the largest in recent history, the outbreak sickened 43 people in 12 states and an additional 22 in Canada. Public health experts have since linked the contaminated lettuce to a region in Northern California, and lettuce is once again hitting the shelves. Still, this doesn’t mean that all the contaminated lettuce is accounted for. Knowing the type of romaine affected and the symptoms sickened individuals are experiencing can help protect consumers.

Specifics of the Recall

The FDA and CDC have been diligently tracing lettuce tainted with E.coli. This recall is particularly concerning, as the food in question tested positive for Shiga toxin-producing E.coli, which can cause serious illness. The symptoms can be life-threatening to certain individuals, like the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Consumers are encouraged to check the labels on their lettuce and to avoid eating any romaine from the contaminated region. If your lettuce contains a label that outlines any of the known contaminated areas, do not consume it.

  • Monterey
  • San Benito
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Cruz
  • Ventura

Romaine lettuce that has a harvest region outside of California’s central coast (such as Yuma and Riverside) and lettuce grown in Florida and Mexico are still safe to eat. Officials encourage consumers who have lettuce harvested in the central coast area, or lettuce of unknown origin, to throw it away immediately.

Symptoms of Illness

The consequences of E.coli sickness can be serious, especially for immunocompromised individuals. The type of E.coli in the recent outbreak can cause serious complications, so it is important for consumers to know the symptoms and seek treatment if necessary. If you think you recently ate contaminated lettuce, be on the lookout for the symptoms.

  • Diarrhea, which can be bloody
  • Severe stomach cramping
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of the disease can start between 2 and 8 days after eating a contaminated food. In healthy adults, the symptoms can last about a week, but in vulnerable populations, it can be longer.

Occasionally, this type of infection can cause a serious, life-threatening condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure. This complication is most common in young children, the elderly, and those with immune problems. Be on the lookout for symptoms of HUS.

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale skin
  • Small bruises
  • Bleeding from mouth or nose
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Decreased urine output

Though most people with E. coli will get better with rest and hydration, some people will require emergency or in-hospital care, especially if severe dehydration occurs. If you experience bloody diarrhea or illness that persists over several days, the CDC recommends contacting your doctor. Although the CDC is still investigating the cause of the outbreak, you should keep an eye on your symptoms and when they started, in case you will have to contact an product liability attorney for your injuries.

After Food borne Illness

Many people do not realize that they may have legal grounds for recourse after contracting a foodborne illness. Contaminated food falls into the area of product liability – in other words, a company may be liable for any damages a person suffers from eating contaminated lettuce, as it constitutes a defective product. Victims of the Shiga toxin-producing lettuce may be able to collect compensation for any medical bills or other damages that result from the illness. Contact Riddle & Brantley if you have any questions regarding this outbreak.