Shortly after Thanksgiving, romaine lettuce was recalled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for E. Coli contamination.  Luckily, the CDC has recently announced that the Caesar salad staple is finally safe to eat again. However, this was not the first outbreak of E. coli to impact our food. In 2018 alone, E. Coli was responsible for two recalls on romaine lettuce and one on ground beef. 

What are E. Coli?

Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli, are bacterium that live in your intestines, as well as in the intestines of other animals. Therefore, not all E. coli are a danger to your body. According to the CDC, "although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick." The non-harmful strains of this bacterium are actually a necessary component of an intestinal tract in good health. The harmful strains of these bacterium, however, are quick to make their infected victims sick.

How would eating E. coli contaminated food affect me?

The incubation period of E. coli can range from one to ten days, but it is most common for symptoms to appear three to four days after exposure to the contamination. Symptoms can include high fever, severe stomach pains, and vomiting. Find a complete list here.

Where did this recent outbreak originate?

The most recent E. coli outbreak originated in Santa Barbara County. However, despite this outbreak's Californian origin, 62 people were infected across 16 states. With an outbreak being defined by the CDC as "when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink," this specific romaine lettuce contamination easily outnumbered the minimum.

lettuce, salad, vegetable, sink, Kitchen, washing vegetables, Green
Julia Gilman

Luckily, the CDC and other regulatory officials have now deemed this most recent outbreak to be over! As of January 9th, the recall on romaine lettuce was lifted, and we were all granted the CDC's blessing to get back to consuming this fundamental salad ingredient.