Coli-Tainted Romaine Lettuce Likely No Longer on Store Shelves

People infected with E coli in the US May 2 CDC

Since romaine lettuce has a shelf life of several weeks, it is possible some contaminated lettuce may still be in stores, restaurants, or home refrigerators.

Twenty-three additional cases of E. coli illness in a multistate outbreak tied to romaine lettuce were reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

Iowa, Nebraska and OR are the latest states to report illnesses linked to the outbreak, joining 29 states that previously reported cases.

It's unlikely that anyone now has edible romaine lettuce that's contaminated with the toxic strain of E. coli bacteria sickening people nationwide since March.

The last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, and the harvest season is over, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

Since 1995, there have been 78 outbreaks linked to leafy greens, he said. So, if you were exposed to the contaminated lettuce, you likely would have gotten sick by now.

In all, 172 individuals across 32 states have become ill since March 13.

The CDC has stopped advising consumers to throw away romaine lettuce if they can't confirm where it's from. One death has been reported.

The CDC said 20 people had developed a severe outcome of E. coli infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

It's the worst outbreak of E. coli since 2006 when illnesses traced to spinach killed three and sickened more than 270. The strain of E. coli, known as O157:H7, produces a Shiga toxin that can affect people seriously, causing diarrhea and vomiting and in severe cases kidney failure.

However, federal health officials are continuing to investigate this outbreak.

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