Officials says the leafy greens have sickened 40 people in 16 states with a particularly dangerous strain of E. coli.

romaine lettuce recall

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned consumers Friday afternoon to not buy or eat any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley, a major agricultural region in northern California. Investigations and testing confirm that lettuces grown in the region are linked to 40 E. coli infections across 16 states.

The strain of E. coli  that has sickened these individuals, O157:H7, is a particularly dangerous one. It contains a Shiga toxin, which enters the bloodstream of an infected person and can cause serious damage to kidney function. In fact, five of the 28 individuals who have been hospitalized because of the infection have a type of kidney failure.

This romaine lettuce recall includes "all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California such as 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," the CDC statement said.

Most lettuce bags and clamshells list where the greens were grown or harvested on the packaging. If you have romaine lettuce grown in Salinas Valley, throw it away, CDC says, and do not buy any lettuce grown in this region. If you have romaine lettuce in your fridge and it does not have a location of harvest, throw it out as a precaution.

This strain of E. coli is the same one that caused two previous E. coli outbreaks in 2017 and in 2018. In 2018, two days before Thanksgiving, CDC warned consumers against eating all romaine lettuce because of the potential for infection. With this outbreak, lab evidence and reports from the sickened individuals point to the specific growing region, which helps narrow down the recalls.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, and diarrhea that can be bloody. CDC says most people will show first signs within 2 to 8 days of consuming the germ. If you think you have eaten contaminated lettuce, call your primary care provider for steps you can take to care for yourself in the event of illness.

Thursday, CDC issued a major recall for more than 70,000 pounds of salad products from New Jersey's Missa Bay LLC. The products also tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. The packaged products, which were sold under several brand names, have use-by dates of October 29 to November 1. These recalled products have the establishment number “EST. 18502B” inside the USDA mark of inspection.