On November 26, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a food safety alert concerning romaine lettuce grown in Central and Northern California. The food safety alert comes in response to a multi-state outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli). The CDC has issued a warning advising all Americans to avoid all forms of romaine lettuce until the CDC can ascertain the extent of the risk and identify contaminated Sources.
This latest recall is actually the second recall for romaine lettuce this year, with the first being a recall of romaine grown in the Yuma region of Arizona. It is essential to know your rights and legal options if you or a loved one contracted E. coli from contaminated romaine, but it is best to prevent exposure in the first place by taking appropriate precautions.
Origin of the Romaine Lettuce Recall
Currently, no firm way exists to track the origin of romaine lettuce sold in grocery stores. Following this food safety alert, the CDC will begin requiring labeling to improve traceability. If you cannot identify the growing region of romaine lettuce, do not buy, sell, serve, or eat it.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified several of the growing regions responsible for the E. coli outbreak in California. These areas include Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Benito, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura. Areas that appear to be unaffected include the Yuma, Imperial County, and Riverside County growing regions of California, Florida, and Mexico.
The CDC recommends throwing away all romaine lettuce products if you cannot identify the growing region. This includes whole romaine heads, hearts, bagged and boxed pre-cut salads with romaine, baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salads. If you cannot tell whether a salad mix contains romaine, throw it away. If you stored any romaine in your refrigerator, clean the refrigerator thoroughly including all drawers or shelves. The CDC offers a comprehensive guide to properly clean your refrigerator to prevent contamination.
The CDC also recommends that restaurants and grocery stores identify all products that contain romaine lettuce and dispose of them appropriately as soon as possible. If you operate a restaurant, do not serve or sell anything with romaine lettuce if the lettuce came from northern or central California or if you cannot identify its origin.
Symptoms of E. coli Exposure
Dozens of people in many states as well as parts of Canada have contracted E. coli from contaminated romaine, and the strain of E. coli present in affected crops produces the Shiga toxin. The early symptoms of this type of E. coli exposure include vomiting, severe stomach cramps, and bloody diarrhea. In severe cases, this strain of E. coli can lead to an infection known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems face the highest risk of HUS. Symptoms of HUS are:
- Abdominal pains
- Bleeding from the nose and/or mouth
- Unexplained bruising
- Decreased urination
HUS is a form of kidney failure and requires immediate medical attention. If you believe you are a victim of eating contaminated romaine lettuce, you may have a product liability lawsuit and could be entitled to compensation.
What to Do If You Contract E. coli from Romaine Lettuce
If you or a loved one contracted E. coli from contaminated romaine lettuce, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the grower, distributor, restaurant, or retailer depending on when and where you purchased the romaine. Foodservice businesses have a responsibility to their customers to serve safe foods, and they have a legal duty to respond to food safety alerts in a timely and efficient manner.
Contact a Las Vegas personal injury laywer if you or a loved one contracted HUS or any other type of E. coli infection after consuming romaine lettuce. Depending on when and where you obtained it, you may be able to secure compensation for medical expenses, missed time from work, and pain and suffering depending on the scope of the damage.