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Watch Out For Romaine Lettuce - Recent E Coli Outbreak

Edward Neeman | Published: November 29, 2018

woman throwing away romaine lettuce

In a recent outbreak of E Coli, people across the country have become ill from the consumption of contaminated romaine lettuce. With Flu season upon us, people are already fighting off coughs and cold and immune systems are in hyper-drive.

The outbreak has been hard to trace, so the CDC has suggested any type of romaine be destroyed and not consumed either raw or cooked. Five people died in June as a result of the last E Coli outbreak. E Coli causes vary but they all stem back to basic hygiene, or a lack thereof.

E Coli Symptoms

E.coli (Escherichia coli) has a wide range of symptoms, some or all are experienced by infected patients and they are the following:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea with or without blood
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

In rare cases, some patients develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) which has the potential to be life-threatening. Clues that someone has the condition include fatigue, loss of color to the face, and decreased urination. HUS can cause kidney failure and if you suspect you have HUS you should seek medical treatment at once. In this instance, E Coli treatment would take place in a hospital.

Risk Factors

Some E Coli risk factors include age, immune-compromised patients, time of the year (such as the summer), stomach acid levels, and the consumption of certain foods. (mostly food that has not been pasteurized or under-cooked).

E Coli Causes

E Coli causes are found in but not limited to the following:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Use of dirty dishes, utensils, or cookware
  • Eating food that has been left out for long periods
  • Eating food that has not been stored properly causing cross-contamination
  • Raw seafood
  • Eating produce that has not been thoroughly rinsed
  • Poor food processing, contaminated water, and person-to-person contractions

E Coli Prevention

E Coli prevention is easy when you exercise basic hygiene. For E Coli prevention, wash fruits and veggies before you eat or cook them. Use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables as well as separate knives. Always make sure to defrost meat in the fridge or microwave and if you’ve had Diarrhea don’t prepare food until it has passed.

Above all WASH YOUR HANDS for the fight to prevent E Coli causes. It is alarming how many people do not exercise proper hygiene regiment and even more alarming to think that because of their recklessness, someone else may die.

Food To Look Out For

Obviously right now the big thing to avoid is romaine lettuce but here are some other foods to watch out for.

  • Raw/under-cooked meat
  • Non-pasteurized milk or juice
  • Raw milk
  • Raw seafood
  • Undercooked meat: Poultry should be at 165F, ground or minced meat and eggs need to be at 160F, and steak, pork chops, roasts, fish, and shellfish should be at or above 145F

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Again, it is alarming how many people do not take food safety seriously. Your fridge should have the different food groups separated and raw should never be on the same shelf as cooked. Raw food should be towards the bottom of the fridge so as not to drip blood onto other foods.

For best results, all of your food should be in individual containers within the fridge that are airtight and leak proof. Clean your fridge regularly and clean up blood spills as soon as they happen. Lastly, clean down your counters after ever use with a kitchen cleaning product or bleach.

E Coli Treatment

E Coli is most often treated in the home and it is rare to be admitted to the hospital. At the top of the list, E Coli treatment consists of drinking water and getting rest. The use of anti-diarrhea tablets is discouraged as they slow the digestion.