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E. Coli Flare-Up In Romaine Lettuce

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Courtesy of iStock

Courtesy of iStock

Courtesy of iStock

Christine Nguyen, Staff Writer

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    A toxic strain of E. coli in romaine lettuce, originating from Yuma, Arizona, has spread across 29 states. This bacteria contributed to 149 victims falling ill and one death.

    It has been twelve years since a major E. coli outbreak. In 2006, contaminated spinach sickened 199 people among 26 states.

    Hailey Cowing (9), interested in health related news, said, “It is quite scary knowing that an E. coli outburst is already making its return. I hope that the negative effects will not be significant as the last time and that we find effective ways to prevent another series of E. coli infections.”

    The first approach was made by investigators who used DNA to determine what the cause of the numerous E. coli cases was.

    According to a New York Times interview, Matthew Yee, deputy chief for outbreak response in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of foodborne, waterborne, and environmental diseases, said, “The first step in any of these large outbreaks is to understand we have a problem.” It was soon discovered that the problem was romaine lettuce. The investigation did not stop there because there were complications involving the lettuce contamination, such as it having taken place at multiple farms.

E. coli is known to be associated with meat most of the time, not greens. Although it can be dangerous in both foods, E. coli in beef can be counteracted with cooking, whereas leafy vegetables are usually eaten raw, which can increase the risk of receiving an infection from the bacteria. This can eventually cause kidney failure.

    Edward Phillips (9), informed about the E. coli flare-up, said, “This matter has changed my mind on how even the simplest of foods have the ability to harm your body. A precaution that can be considered is to clean the lettuce more properly and to not use as many chemicals.” Due to the severe effects of E. coli, restaurants are debating on whether they should still continue to serve romaine lettuce.

    Scientists are currently examining the mechanics of the farm, such as the water sources and distribution centers. They have been following through the procedure to try and figure out where E. coli is specifically coming from. Farmers are continuing to receive produce-safety training and inspections are expected to happen next year.

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E. Coli Flare-Up In Romaine Lettuce