Coli Cases Identified: Consumer Reports Says Romaine Still a Risk to Eat

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There is new information out on the deadly E. coli outbreak in the United States and Canada.

That brings the total number of cases involving E. coli to 66 in the recent outbreak in the USA and Canada.

The CDC said that six of the seven new cases occurred within the time frame of all the other reported incidents, between November 15 and December 8.

"The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill", the CDC reported today.

People are no longer being advised to consider other lettuces instead of romaine. One person has also died in Canada.

On Monday, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking for more information about this outbreak. CDC should conduct the investigation while providing timely public information, she recommended.

She said American consumers "deserve more than this slow and insufficient response" and that families are "now left wondering if the food they are eating is safe".

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The CDC, for its part, says that it hasn't yet identified the type of leafy green involved and that it's investigation is continuing.

On the same day, CDC announced the E. coli strains appeared related but would not identify a source of the infections.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency - which is similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - tested samples of romaine lettuce as part of the outbreak investigation. Two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. In the United States, there are 24 confirmed victims across 15 states. CDC said leafy greens typically have a short shelf life, and since the last illness started a month ago, it is likely that contaminated leafy greens linked to this outbreak are no longer available for sale.

People usually get sick from this particular strain of E. coli three to four days after eating contaminated food. Contamination is also possible at the grocery store, in the refrigerator, or from counters and cutting boards through cross-contamination with bacteria from raw meat, poultry or seafood.

In the meantime, we'll keep you posted on CDC and the FDAs findings of where the source of the latest E.coli outbreak is coming from. It's also important to avoid preparing food when you are sick, particularly if you are sick with diarrhea.

In all, 42 people, from five provinces, became ill, according to Public Health Agency Canada. There is 1 reported death. While the lettuce that may have caused the illnesses is no longer on the market, we do not know where the products were sold, or where the leafy green was grown, harvested, or processed. Those most at risk for E. coli illness include the very young, very old and individuals with compromised immune systems.