Here's something you don't hear everyday: tread lightly around romaine lettuce. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an E. coli outbreak in bags of chopped romaine has spread to 16 states, and has so far sickened at least 53 people.
The advisory, according to government officials, is to literally throw all your chopped romaine in the trash, or otherwise risk getting sick. As the CDC writes: "Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick."
Per a report by USA Today, the tainted lettuce is linked to farms in Yuma, Arizona and has ballooned dramatically since it was first reported earlier this month. Eighteen people have apparently been affected by the scare since last Friday alone, and a total of 31 people have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak.
Currently, the states with reported E. coli cases are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
If you're dead-set on purchasing chopped romaine, the CDC has further advice: "Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it."
Not that you need a reminder, but getting infected with E. coli totally sucks. This particular outbreak concerns Shiga toxin-producing bacteria, which the CDC says causes diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps among other symptoms. It usually takes about one week to recover, although in some cases hospitalization is required.
So, while authorities sort out this mess, feel free to acquaint your lettuce with the garbage.
h/t USA Today