Dangerous Lettuce

Throw out all your romaine lettuce. Those people who hate salads have been on to something. To be safe, you should probably just throw out all your lettuce if you don’t know what kind it is, according to the CDC. To date there have been 53 cases of E. coli infections across 16 states linked to romaine lettuce. Thirty one people have been hospitalized “including five people who have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.” The CDC has narrowed the location of the bad lettuce but warns that “unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region,” it’s not safe to eat.

Symptoms of E. coli may include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting and usually appear 1-10 days after exposure. People with weakened immune symptoms, young children, older adults, and pregnant women are most at risk for serious complications.

Catching a Wave of Antibiotic Resistance

The surf is up, filled with the salty waters of antibiotic resistance. A study published in the Environment International journal found that surfers were three times as likely to be carrying antibiotic resistant E. coli in their stool than non-surfers. Researchers believe this is because surfers are more likely to swallow water than the non-surfing population. As someone who has tried surfing exactly once, I can attest that I unintentionally swallowed much more Venice Beach ocean water than I wanted to.

Newsweek explains:

When antibiotics are fed to livestock and farmers use their manure to fertilize crops, the antibiotics in their system can give rise to [antibiotic resistance]. When those crops are watered, runoff from the fields sometimes make it into bodies of water. When people swim in that water or swallow it, they are prone to infection.

Surfers, who may be generally healthy, are unlikely to get severely sick from ingesting the bacteria. However, “they could spread the bacteria to anyone they interact with, including the elderly and people with compromised immune systems,” resulting in much more severe consequences.

New Year, Same Food Dangers

Hold the salad, please. Or at least hold the romaine lettuce – a deadly outbreak of E. coli linked to this green leaf has been reported in the U.S. and Canada. At least 60 people have been infected and one person has died as a result of this outbreak.

I happen to be on a romaine lettuce kick myself, but suppose I’ll switch to another variety that hasn’t yet been contaminated. According to Food Safety News:

The risk is ongoing in both countries, officials report. Canadian officials are suggesting consumers in some provinces avoid all romaine lettuce. Government officials haven’t revealed any information about implicated suppliers, distributors or retailers in the romaine supply chain.

So that’s reassuring. It’s worth noting that while the Canadian government is advising against eating romaine lettuce, the U.S. CDC is still conducting their own research:

“Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available.”

Symptoms of E. coli may include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting and usually appear 1-10 days after exposure. People with weakened immune symptoms, young children, older adults, and pregnant women are most at risk for serious complications.

Is anything safe to eat? Spoiler alert: NO

Well, we have a lot to unpack here at PlagueGirl.  First off, food is no longer safe to eat.  This should have been obvious to everyone with the deadly listeria outbreak in cantaloupe and the E.coli outbreaks that have been linked to cookie dough, beef and spinach, just to mention a few.

But if for some reason all of this escaped you and you continued eating your raw cookie dough with your hands blissfully unaware, I am here to inform you it appears nothing is safe to eat anymore. (On a personal note, none of this has stopped me from eating anything, ever, but I like to live dangerously as PlagueGirl.)

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Recently, seemingly innocent bags of frozen berries have been linked to an outbreak of Hepatitis A.  At this point, some people expect their meat to have mad cow or E.coli or some sort of contamination, but their healthy bags of frozen berries?!  (On another personal note, I recently invested in a blender and have been making tons of delicious smoothies.  But like I said, I live dangerously.)  Click here for more info on Hepatitis A.

Next on our list of contaminated foods is CHEESE.  CHEESE! Cheese is both delicious and no stranger to contamination.  A recent outbreak of listeria has been linked to cheese sold at Whole Foods stores.  So far, it has been associated with the death of one person and the possible miscarriage of a pregnant woman.  Click here for more info on Listeria.

Upcoming on PlagueGirl: Coronavirus, Valley Fever, and whatever the next food-borne illness may be!

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