NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -There is a nationwide recall tonight (Nov. 20) on romaine lettuce from any region after 32 people across the country fell sick after eating it. Restaurant and grocery stores owners were busy taking it off of shelves and menus.
According to federal health officials, 32 people have fallen ill in 11 states from eating romaine lettuce, and 13 have been hospitalized due to a strain of E. coli.
Dr. Brobson Lutz with the Orleans Parish Medical Society said it’s a strain generally associated with sewage, and treatment with antibiotics actually make the illness worse.
“This is a very severe form of E. coli. It can cause kidney damage, kidney failure, actually,” said Lutz.
He said the need for such a widespread recall is because investigators don’t know exactly where it’s coming from. Lutz said a majority of people shouldn’t be concerned unless they start experiencing stomach problems after a few days, but children and those with pre-existing conditions might be at higher risk.
“You start getting gastrointestinal symptoms, you need to let your physician know,” said Lutz.
Those finishing up their Thanksgiving shopping said they were surprised when they had to change their grocery list at the last minute, while others say learning of a nationwide romaine lettuce recall wasn’t going to affect their menu plans too much.
But for restaurants that have to worry about feeding people every day, Drago’s seafood owner and manager Tommy Cvitanovich said it was a matter of minutes before they stopped serving romaine lettuce. He said they’re accustomed to quickly responding and reacting to recalls. Pulling the product and changing recipes to eliminate any of the potentially dangerous lettuce, especially right before a holiday.
“At the end of the day, it’s nothing to play with, and Louisiana seafood goes great on any kind of seafood,” said Cvitanovich.
Rouse’s supermarket released a statement saying they removed all the romaine lettuce from produce, deli and salad bars and sanitized everything after doing so.
For customers, if they’ve purchased romaine lettuce or products containing romaine in the last 10 days, they can refund the purchase.