Consumer Reports urges Americans to avoid romaine lettuce becaus - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Consumer Reports urges Americans to avoid romaine lettuce because of E.coli concerns

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NBC RIGHT NOW - Over the past seven weeks, 58 people in the U.S. and Canada have become ill from a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria, and Consumer Reports says it's likely from eating romaine lettuce.

In the U.S., the infections have occurred in 13 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Five people in the U.S. have been hospitalized and one has died. Another has died in Canada.

Canadian health authorities identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada, and are advising people in the country’s eastern provinces to consider eating other types of salad greens until further notice. American health officials, however, say while the E.coli cases appear to be similar, it's too early to tell you to avoid a particular food. U. S. investigators are still confirming a direct link with the Canadian E.coli cases.

This strain of E. coli (0157:H7) produces a toxin that in some cases can lead to serious illness, kidney failure, and even death.

 “Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw,” says James Rogers, Ph.D., Director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports.

The people most at risk from E. coli infections are young children, older adults and people with weak immune systems.

Investigators in this country say they're still interviewing patients and testing genetic samples of the bacteria involved and will release more information as soon as it's available.