USLegal Newsletter November 2019 – FDA/CDC Issue Romaine Lettuce Alert before Thanksgiving

If you are doing grocery shopping this Thanksgiving week, exercise caution when buying romaine lettuce. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a public health alert because of an E. coli outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 67 people have been infected with E. coli across 19 states so far with 39 people getting so sick that they have had to be hospitalized. The common link appears to be romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, California region. The CDC and FDA are now advising consumers not to eat and retailers not to sell romaine lettuce that can be traced to this area. The FDA says this includes “wraps, sandwiches, prepackaged salad, salad kits, or any other product containing romaine lettuce.”

According to the agencies, E. coli is a “potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.”

If the lettuce does not have information about harvest region or does not indicate that it has been grown indoors, recommendations are to throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

The FDA and CDC says the investigation is ongoing “to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness.” For more information about the outbreak, visit the FDA and CDC websites.

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Legal Definitions

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a U.S. federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It aims to protect public health by providing information and tools that people and communities need to protect their health. The CDC works in co-operation with state health departments and other national and international organizations/agencies to meet its goal. More

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