E. coli outbreak linked to California romaine lettuce expands with more than 100 ill

Federal health officials are continuing to warn consumers to not eat romaine lettuce from Salinas, California.

More than 100 people in 23 states have been infected with a strain of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce harvested in the California growing region, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

The CDC said in an update that an additional 35 illnesses have been reported since Nov. 26 when there were 67 cases in 19 states.

The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to the lettuce “to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness.”

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The outbreak has grown from when health officials put out a safety alert Nov. 22 warning consumers to not eat romaine lettuce from the California region from stores across the nation, and for restaurants to not serve the lettuce.

In an update Wednesday, the FDA said it “requested that industry voluntarily withdraw romaine grown in Salinas from the market and is requesting that industry withhold distribution of Salinas romaine for the remainder of the growing season in Salinas. Without more specific traceback information, this was the most efficient way to ensure that contaminated romaine was off the market.”

E. coli symptoms vary and can include abdominal cramps, nausea, fatigue and diarrhea. Symptoms usually begin within three to four days after eating or drinking items containing the bacteria. However, the CDC states that symptoms can start anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure.

The CDC is advising consumers to not eat – and retailers not to sell – the lettuce harvested in the California region, including “whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.” This includes all use-by dates and brands from Salinas.

On Nov. 21, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that more than 75,000 pounds of packaged salad was being recalled after seven people were hospitalized with E. coli and two of them developed kidney failure.  

This story will be updated.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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