People should avoid eating romaine lettuce till health officials from the US and Canada don't find the root cause behind the outbreak of E coli infections they are said to be causing, Consumer Reports has revealed.
A dangerous strain of the bacteria made 58 people sick in the US and Canada over the past seven weeks, and the cause behind it is believed to be romaine lettuce consumption.
In the US, 13 states have been hit by the infections: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington, Consumer Reports quoted.
Statistics by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the infections resulted in the death of a person and hospitalisation of five others in the US alone, besides the death of a person in Canada.
Romaine lettuce was found to be the cause of the infection's outbreak by the Canadian health authorities. Hence, people have been advised to substitute romaine lettuce with other types of green salad till they don't receive any further notice regarding the matter.
Government health officials in the US are investigating the reason behind the outbreaks, but unlike Canada they haven't asked the people to refrain from eating romaine lettuce or any other food.
A toxin produced by the strain currently blamed for E coli (0157:H7) infection can cause serious ailments, kidney failure and even death.
This is the reason why food safety experts from Consumer Reports are suggesting that people avoid eating romaine lettuce till further investigations are carried out and the exact cause of the outbreak recognised and the product cleared from all the stores.
"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E coli outbreak in the US, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw," said James Rogers, PhD and director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports.
The report also revealed that though everyone was at the risk of getting infected with the bacteria, children, the elderly and those diagnosed with diabetes, cancer and other immunity-weakening diseases were at higher risk.
"People in these groups should be particularly vigilant about avoiding romaine lettuce," Rogers was quoted by Consumer Reports as saying.