E. Coli Lettuce Outbreak: Romaine Calm!

By Marian Searby

E.Coli is no joke, which is why the outbreak in romaine lettuce in 2018 sparked fear throughout the nation. E. Coli is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of humans and animals. Most types of E.Coli are normal and cause no problems for humans but certain strands can cause severe food poisoning. In November of 2018, an outbreak of E.Coli was found in romaine lettuce. Five people died and about 210 experienced E.Coli’s brutal effects. According to an article in the New York Times, investigators were able to trace the outbreak back to contaminated irrigation canal in Yuma, Arizona. Several farms were contaminated which is why the effects were so far reaching. This discovery was made after several inmates at a prison in Alaska fell ill.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), they have deemed the outbreak to be over as of January 9.

This may seem obvious, but it is extremely important that people wash their hands before preparing or eating food. It is also very important to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before consuming. You can NEVER be too cautious!

Symptoms of E.Coli include but are not limited to (sorry some are gross but this is important):

  • Fever
  • Cramps
  • Bloody Diarrhea
  • Bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Kidney Failure

E. Coli comes in many forms including:

  • Water – bottle water is for the most part pretty safe (there have been instances of recalled bottled water in the past) but the main offender is water coming from private wells. My advice: get a life straw (see below).
  • Beef – during the slaughtering process of cows for beef, the cows are treated terribly. They are forced to sit in their own manure as well as that of other cows. Sometimes their food can also be contaminated. So when the beef from these cows gets to the consumer, it is contaminated. If you want to learn more about this process take AP Environmental Science.
  • Sprouts – do not eat raw sprouts. By cooking them, you can reduce your risk of contracting things like E. Coli since they are grown in humid and damp conditions which is an E.Coli breeding ground.
  • Unpasteurized foods – juices, dairy products, etc. which have not been pasteurized (a process which can extend the shelf life of products) can be contaminated with E.Coli because the process of pasteurizing foods kills the bacteria. Obviously, there are many benefits of eating unpasteurized foods but just keep this in mind.

This is a lifestraw. If the apocalypse hits and you have to drink out of a nasty ravine that for sure has been contaminated by E.Coli, theoretically you will be fine.