Romaine lettuce from Arizona has an E. coli problem, but the good news is the harvest there is over

If you're going crazy for the recent E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce, do not do it. The growing season has ended in the area of ​​Yuma, Arizona, where the infected products come from, so the romaine lettuce in your supermarket or restaurant should come from other places and be fine. Even so, if you can not confirm where comes from romaine lettuce, do not eat it, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, 121 people have been infected with E. coli in 25 states, the CDC announced today. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, some, such as E. coli O157: H7 that caused the outbreak: can produce toxins and make people sick . If you eat a salad with infected leaves, you may have cramps, bloody diarrhea and even kidney failure, according to microbiologist Michele Jay-Russell, a food safety expert at UC Davis. Of the people who became ill with romaine lettuce, 52 were hospitalized, 14 had kidney failure and one in California died, according to the CDC.

Although the fact that a person has died is scary, you should bear in mind that people who eat contaminated lettuce It takes a few days to get sick, and it takes a few weeks for diseases to be reported to the CDC. That could mean there are more unreported cases, but experts in food safety believe that the outbreak will soon come to an end.

All cases related to E. coli outbreak point of romaine lettuce from the Yuma region, Arizona, says the CDC. That's where most of the salad vegetables consumed in the US. UU They come from the months of December to March. After that, the harvest moves to Salinas, on the central coast of California. (This area is too wet in winter, so lettuce is grown in the Arizona desert during that time.)

Because the growing season is over in Yuma, the romaine lettuce you find in your store or restaurants I should have sent from another place at this point. If your product comes from California or your local farm, there is no reason to worry. But it is always good to ask: if the romaine lettuce is from Yuma, or if people do not know, do not buy it. And if you have two or three weeks of romaine lettuce in your refrigerator, and you do not know where it grew, it's probably best to throw it away, says Trevor Suslow, a food safety expert at UC Davis. 19659007] Fresh produce is often the culprit of foodborne illness. This is because, unlike meat, you do not throw a salad on the grill, so you can not eliminate any dangerous bacteria in the cooking process. "There is no killing step," says Jay-Russell The Verge . In addition, Americans love their salad mixes pre-washed and washed at the same time, which increases the chances of contamination. When the lettuce is previously washed, the bacteria can also literally adhere to the leaves, which makes it impossible to wash at home, says Jay-Russell.

Veggies can be contaminated in different ways: in the field if there is fresh manure containing E. coli for example, or while processing on farms and facilities. The US Food and Drug Administration. UU He identified Harrison Farms of Yuma as one of the responsible cultivators of a recent E. Coli outbreak at a correctional facility in Alaska. But not all cases are linked to Harrison Farms, and the FDA is still investigating exactly where romaine lettuce is picking up dangerous mistakes.

Therefore, it is good to be aware of the CDC notices and to verify when the outbreak has officially ended. Jay-Russell says he expects the outbreak to last about a month or a month and a half. Meanwhile, he still enjoys lettuce and bagged salads. "Most of the time, they're fine," says Jay-Russell.